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No Contact Orders in Domestic Violence cases

What Is a Domestic Violence No Contact Order

Whenever a person is arrested for or charged with domestic violence, the law requires the court to consider whether to issue a court order that prevents the defendant from having contact with the alleged victim. The order is called a "No Contact Order." It is a form order that has restraint terms and warnings in bold lettering.

  • The order can prohibit the defendant from having contact with the alleged victim directly or through third parties. 
  • The order can prohibit the defendant form having contact with the alleged victim's residence, place of work or wherever the alleged victim is. 
  • The order can prohibit the defendant from having contact with his or her own residence. 

It's strongly advised to scrupulously follow a No Contact Order. If a domestic violence no contact order is violated, a new and additional charge can be filed against the defendant.  It can also result in immediate arrest.

What the Court Cares About is Safety

The law is written to presume that there is a "likelihood of repeated violence directed at those who have been victims of domestic violence."

The legal basis for issuing a No Contact Order is in the Revised Code of Washington. These are the laws created by the Legislature that judges must follow in domestic violence cases. 

The law requires the court to consider imposing no contact orders following an arrest or charge for domestic violence.  

At the hearing following an arrest or charge for domestic violence, the judge will not give much if any consideration to arguments about innocence. The judge will focus on victim safety. Arguments about innocence at no contact order hearings don't get far.  Even if the alleged victim says he/she is safe, the judge may or may not follow his/her wishes.  

Effective arguments about whether a no contact order should, or should not issue, are focused on safety.

An attorney helping an alleged victim or defendant will focus on talking to the judge about why the alleged victim is safe.  

Duration of  DV No Contact Order

A no contract order will usually last several weeks, at a minimum.  However, a no contact order cannot last longer than the criminal charge.  If a charge is dismissed, the no contact order is no longer enforceable and it is terminated.  

A no contact order can also be terminated or modified while a criminal case is still open.  A prosecutor and defendant might strike an agreement that involves jointly requesting that the judge terminate the no contact order.  An alleged victim may ask the court to terminate or modify a no contact order. 

If a judge is satisfied that the alleged victim is safe and the alleged victim is not opposed to the no contact order getting lifted, the order may be terminated or modified.  

Modifying or Terminating a No Contact Order

Modification or termination of no contact order will almost always require the support of the alleged victim. If the victim/alleged victim wants the domestic violence no contact order, it will not be removed unless the case is dismissed or closed. 

The judge might keep a no contact order in place but make exceptions for some types of contact. When there are children involved, the court might allow contact between the parents to discuss the children or to plan for visits with the children.  The court might allow the parents to be around each other to exchange the children for visits. The court might allow the parties to have electronic communication only. 

Sometimes, even if the exception seems harmless and safe, the judge may still oppose any modification to the order.

Modifications generally happen sooner than terminations.  Terminations are more likely occur in these scenarios:

  • The charge is dropped or dismissed
  • The case is closed
  • The victim supports termination and the judge feels it is safe to drop the order
  • The defendant has done some form of counseling or treatment
  • The prosecutor agrees to recommend the no contact order be terminated

The information provided here is not legal advice. It is general information to help with reader education.  Each real life case and situation is different and the impact and process of no contact orders varies.  The domestic violence attorneys at Burke Brown Attorneys PLLC help defendants, alleged victims and victims impacted by domestic violence cases.  (206) 933-2414.

 

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