Articles Posted in Civil Protection Order

When a court finds a parent has engaged in a history of acts of domestic violence, a permanent Washington parent plan may not require mutual decision-making or a dispute resolution process other than court action if the court finds a parent has a history of acts of domestic violence.  RCW 26.09.191. A mother recently challenged a parenting plan that required joint decision making for health care and the court’s failure to enter a restraining order after she presented substantial evidence of a history of domestic violence.

According to the appeals court’s opinion, the parties got married in 2013 and had a child in 2014.  They divorced in August 2015.  The parenting plan acknowledged a “[h]istory of intimidation and verbal abuse. . . in the presence of [the] child,” but the trial court did not impose restrictions.

The father started a relationship with another woman in February 2015 and they had a child.

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Washington civil protection orders have undergone significant changes recently, including changes to the duration of protection orders.  However, there are some cases filed before the new laws took effect that are still subject to the previous laws.  A husband recently challenged the duration of a Domestic Violence Protection Order (“DVPO”) under the former DVPO statutes.

According to the appeals court’s unpublished opinion, the petitioner and respondent were married for 25 years.  The wife filed a petition for a DVPO against the husband on September 20, 2021.  She alleged he had “assaulted [her] with his iPhone.” She also alleged he stood in the door to keep her from leaving.  The husband was not arrested, but police officers ordered him to leave the home.

The wife’s petition included information regarding past incidents of domestic violence by the husband, including  hitting her with a gallon of milk in 1998, kicking a coffee table at her injuring her legs in 2003, and throwing a bottle and hitting her shoulder in 2006.  The husband was arrested for the 2006 incident after the wife’s doctor reported it to the police. The husband was sentenced to probation and ordered to go to anger management classes.

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Major changes in Washington’s civil protection order laws took effect July 1, 2022. The changes were intended to update and harmonize laws related to civil protection orders.

Civil protection order laws are now consolidated under RCW 7.105. Under the new law, rules and procedures will be more standardized across the different types of protection orders.  There are procedural changes to service of process and hearings.  Electronic service is now prioritized except in cases requiring the surrender of firearms, cases involving the transfer of custody of a child, cases involving removal of the respondent from a shared residence, cases where the respondent is incarcerated, and vulnerable adult protection order cases filed by someone other than the vulnerable adult.  RCW 7.105.150.

Hearings related to protection orders may be held in person or remotely.  The court must allow a party to appear remotely unless it finds good cause to require them to attend in person or by other specific means.  RCW 7.105.205.

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Washington’s Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative (“DOSA”) program provides substance use disorder treatment and community treatment to people with a substance use disorder who have committed certain crimes. A DOSA sentence reduces or eliminates the time a person must spend in jail or prison if they complete the treatment and comply with the supervision requirements. A defendant recently challenged a court’s denial of his request of a DOSA sentence.

He was charged with three felony counts of violating a court order, with the state alleging he knowingly violated a no contact order on three occasions and that he had at least two prior convictions for violating a court order.

At sentencing, the defendant asked for a prison-based Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative (“DOSA”), pursuant to RCW 9.94A.660, pointing to testimony from the alleged victim in which she responded “yes” to a question asking if the defendant used methamphetamine.  The court described this testimony as inadmissible and prejudicial.  The trial court noted that the defendant was facing three cases in a different county and had two prior convictions for violating court orders.

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Washington domestic violence cases often involve allegations the defendant took or damaged the alleged victim’s phone.  Taking a phone in such circumstances may result in charges of interfering with reporting domestic violence, but it can also result in theft charges.  Given the ever-increasing price of mobile phones, those theft charges can be very serious.  In a recent unpublished case, a defendant challenged his second degree theft conviction, arguing the state had failed to prove the value of the phone.

After their romantic relationship ended, the defendant’s ex-girlfriend obtained a no-contact order against him in July 2020.

According to the appeals court’s opinion, the defendant saw her in her truck in a grocery store parking lot, opened her door, threw a drink at her, and struck her multiple times.  He also took her phone and the phone of her male friend.  A witness called 911.

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Pursuant to RCW 26.50.110(5), violation of certain Washington protection orders is a class C felony if the defendant has two or more prior convictions for violating specified types of protection orders. A defendant recently challenged his felony convictions, arguing the state failed to prove the validity of one of his prior convictions.

According to the appeals court’s unpublished opinion, the defendant entered a guilty plea to violating a protection order in 1992.  The county clerk’s office destroyed most of the related records since then.  In 2019, the only record left was a seven-page document titled “DOCKET.” This document contained clerk entries related to the prosecution of that case.

In 2019, the district court in another county entered a no-contact order prohibiting the defendant from contacting his girlfriend.  He was later charged with three counts of felony violation of a no-contact order based on alleged calls he made to her from jail.  He was charged with felonies based on the state’s allegations he had two previous convictions for violating an order.  If he did not have prior convictions, the alleged violations would just be misdemeanors instead of felonies.

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When a court enters certain types of Washington protection orders, it must also require the surrender of firearms and other weapons upon a proper showing that the respond used, displayed, or threatened to use a firearm or other dangerous weapon in a felony or that the respondent is not eligible to possess a firearm pursuant to RCW 9.41.040. RCW 9.41.800. An ex-husband recently challenged a court’s order of contempt for failure to surrender his weapons.

His ex-wife petitioned for a domestic violence protection order (“DVPO”) against him, alleging multiple instances of abuse.  She stated he put a laser on his gun and pointed the laser at her forehead, telling her that was “where the bullet is going to land.” In another incident, she stated he told her he would kill her if she left while holding a gun to her head.  She attached a photo of a firearm and another of the ex-husband with a firearm.

The court issued a temporary DVPO and an order to surrender weapons on November 20, 2020.

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The First Amendment protects the right to free speech. A defendant recently challenged a felony stalking conviction, arguing it was based solely on protected speech.

The defendant was retried after his conviction was reversed on appeal.

According to the appeals court’s opinion, an employee of the county corrections center testified at the trial.  The witness testified she had known the defendant since high school.  She testified he had engaged in inappropriate behavior, including saying “raunchy” things to her.  She said he behaved inappropriately toward all women.  She testified he made crude comments to her on social media.  When she blocked him, he would contact her through a new profile.

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Some custody cases can become so acrimonious they result in Washington civil protection orders and even criminal court.  In a recent unpublished case, a mother challenged her convictions of felony harassment and felony violation of a protection order.

When the parents divorced, the mother was awarded sole custody of the children.  After the father obtained treatment for a brain injury he incurred in the military, he was given visitation. The mother would not comply with the visitation order and the father was given sole custody in September 2018.

According to the appeals court’s opinion, the father found the mother attempting to break in to his home the day he took custody. She physically attacked him and his father.

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Washington domestic violence protection orders must be supported by a preponderance of the evidence that domestic violence occurred. Domestic violence protection order proceedings are not subject to the same rules of evidence as other types of cases. A court may rely on evidence, such as hearsay, that would not be allowed in other types of proceedings. In a recent unpublished case, a father challenged a domestic violence order against him, arguing in part there was not credible evidence supporting it.

When the parents divorced, the trial court entered a permanent restraining order prohibiting the father from contacting the mother except for reasons related to the children.  The trial court in the divorce proceeding found the father engaged in domestic violence and abusive use of conflict. The court also ordered the father to participate in parenting classes and domestic violence treatment.

Several years later, the children told their mother that they were afraid of their father and did not want to go back to his home.

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