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Domestic Violence Protection Orders

Domestic Violence Protection Orders

Anyone can seek a domestic violence protection order.  The person seeking protection, the Petitioner, must complete a written petition stating how they have been a victim of domestic violence.  This petition is presented to a commissioner who reviews the petition.  This is done ex parte, meaning without the other party present for the hearing. 

If the commissioner finds that there is reason to believe domestic violence has occurred and that there is an emergency, a temporary domestic violence protection order is issued. A hearing on the full order is set in 14 days later.

The Petitioner must have the other side personally served 5 days before the hearing.  At the full hearing, the judge hears from both parties and decides whether to issue a "full order" and for how long.

Domestic violence without violence

There is a legal definition of domestic violence in protection order proceedings. It can be different from what a person personally thinks is domestic violence.  Domestic violence doesn't have to be actual physical violence. 

With domestic violence protection orders, the term domestic violence is broad.  It includes behaviors that makes someone in fear of physical violence. It includes "stalking" behavior that makes someone scared of harm. It can include threats. 

It can be statements or conduct that causes fear in someone.

It can be conduct that makes a person feel stalked. Sometimes the person accused of domestic violence may have never intended any harm at all.

Lies, bad motives and persuading a judge

Sometimes lies and bad motivation are very obvious to a party, but not necessarily to a judge or court commissioner.  The parties are usually experts about the other person. They know when the other party is telling the truth and when they are manipulating. But the commissioner is new to the case and to the parties and things are often not obvious to him or her.

It can take some work to make it clear to the commissioner - through evidence - that a party is manipulating and lying.  The domestic violence protection order proceeding is a legal proceeding. 

In legal proceedings, evidence and persuasion are important to prove facts.  This is very possible to do, but it is never safe to assume that lying and bad motive is obvious.  

Outcomes: Good and Not Good

A good outcome is a dismissed protection order petition.

This can happen either by agreement. Yes, parties can reach an agreement for dismissal. Or, it can happen because there was a contested hearing and the commissioner was not persuaded that domestic violence had occurred.

If you are a petitioner, a good outcome is that the court issues a protection order for your safety.  A bad outcome, is to be the losing party after a contested hearing. If you are a petitioner, not having protection can be a scary outcome. 

If you are a respondent, a protection order can be used as a tool of abuse.  A petitioner can make up a story of contact or a respondent can mistakenly have contact. A violation of a protection order, can result in jail and a criminal charge. 

Many protection orders can prohibit contact with the restrained party's minor children.  All domestic violence protection orders result in loss of the right to possess a firearm.

We help people every day get through domestic violence protection order proceedings.  Please feel free to call us if you need help.  (206) 933-2414.

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Seattle, WA 98104
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