Articles Posted in Domestic Violence

During the COVID-19 pandemic, courts adopted a number of policies and procedures to prevent infection.  A defendant recently appealed his convictions for violation of a no contact order, challenging whether the state proved he had knowledge of the order when he had not signed it during COVID-19 protocols.

According to the appeals court’s opinion, a 2020 domestic violence no-contact order prohibited the defendant from contacting the ex-girlfriend until 2025. In October 2021, the two got into an argument.  The ex-girlfriend called 911 and reported that the defendant had strangled her.

The responding officer observed that the ex-girlfriend was “very nervous” and appeared fearful and like she had been crying.  He testified she told him the defendant strangled her. He did not see any injuries.

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Washington family law recognizes a rebuttable presumption that relocation of a child under a parenting plan will be permitted.  That presumption does not apply, however, if the parents have “substantially equal residential time.” “Substantially equal time” generally means the child spends at least 45% of their residential time with each parent pursuant to a court order. RCW 26.09.525. A father recently challenged a relocation, partly because the trial court applied the presumption by considering how the residential time changed under a Domestic Violence Protection Order (“DVPO”).

According to the appeals court’s opinion, the mother sought a DVPO against the father after seeing severe bruising on their two-year-old daughter.

The mother filed a notice of intent to move the children.  She asked that the father be evaluated for substance abuse and anger management or domestic violence and comply with the treatment recommendations. She also requested the court suspend his residential time for non-compliance.

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When a parent seeks a Washington domestic violence protection order (“DVPO”), they may want to include their minor children as protected parties.  If the protection order is against the other parent, it can affect that parent’s visitation and custody.  In a recent case, a mother appealed a DVPO that did not include her three-year-old child as a protected party.

The appeals court’s opinion stated the mother had petitioned for a protection order to protect herself and her child against her boyfriend, who was also the child’s father.  She requested an order restraining him from any contact with her or the child, from coming within 1,000 feet of her home or workplace or the child’s daycare.  She asked for sole custody of the child.  She asked the court to order the father to participate in treatment or counseling.  She requested the order be effective for over a year.

She alleged multiple incidents of domestic violence by the father, including incidents in which she said he shoved her and threatened her.  She stated the father was under investigation for an incident in which he threw her against the wall and to the floor, choked her, and banged her head against the floor.  She alleged this incident occurred in front of the child.

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A court issuing a Washington domestic violence protection order (“DVPO”) must also order the surrender of firearms, dangerous weapons, and concealed pistol licenses. The restrained person must file a proof of surrender and receipt or a declaration of nonsurrender within five days.  RCW 9.41.804. The restrained person must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that they have surrendered all dangerous weapons. A petitioner recently appealed a court’s finding the respondent was in compliance with the order to surrender.

According to the appeals court’s unpublished opinion, the petitioner testified the respondent became violent and controlling during their relationship.  She said he had threatened to shoot up her friend’s house if she did not come out and then forced her into the car at gunpoint. She testified he took her to a deserted parking lot and ripped her shirt off, pulled her hair, and strangled her, while pointing a gun at her. She alleged he sent her photos of himself holding guns and photos of guns along with threatening text messages.

She petitioned for an order of protection. Although initially denied, she was granted a second hearing due to procedural issues.  The petitioner testified and presented declarations from her mother and a witness. She presented evidence of threatening photographs of firearms the respondent sent her.  The appeals court noted there were five firearms shown in the pictures, which were all taken either in the respondent’s room or his mother’s car.

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Washington domestic violence protection orders (“DVPOs”) protect abused spouses, romantic partners, and family and household members.  The court may order the DVPO for a fixed period of time, in many cases, one year.  The petitioner may seek a renewal of the DVPO and, under current RCW 7.105.405, the petitioner does not have a burden to prove they have “a current reasonable fear of harm. . .” Instead, the respondent has the burden to prove they will not resume acts of domestic violence.  In some cases, however, a DVPO may be inadvertently allowed to expire.  A former husband recently challenged a DVPO protecting his former wife and their children after the previous DVPO was allowed to expire.

The parties shared custody of their two children following their divorce in 2019.  According to the appeals court’s opinion, the ex-husband tried to force his way into the ex-wife’s home and injured her.  She sought a domestic violence protection order (“DVPO”).  The court issued a DVPO protecting the ex-wife and the children for one year.  The order also limited the ex-husband’s residential time with the children to a weekly four-hour supervised visit.  The ex-wife sought renewal in June 2021. Thereafter, the DVPO was extended through agreed short-term orders and ultimately expired in January 2022.

The ex-wife sought another DVPO in February 2022, alleging she allowed the prior order to expire accidentally.  She stated she was still afraid of the ex-husband and that she thought she and the children were only safe because of the protection order.  She also stated she had moved to modify the parenting plan to limit the ex-husband to supervised visits, but that motion was still pending.

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A Washington Domestic Violence Protection Order (“DVPO”) may order a respondent to participate in state-certified treatment, and failure to do so may be considered if the petitioner seeks renewal. A respondent recently challenged renewal of a DVPO, arguing the court should have considered his relocation and participation in an out-of-state treatment program.

According to the appeals court’s opinion, the petitioner and respondent were a married couple living in Montana when they separated in 2018. After moving to Washington, the wife sought a Domestic Violence Protection Order (“DVPO”). A court commissioner issued a DVPO for one year, requiring treatment and counseling in a domestic violence perpetrator program approved by Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services (“DSHS”).

The petitioner sought renewal of the order in 2020.  The petition stated she still feared the respondent and future violent acts if the order was allowed to expire.  She also stated she was afraid to visit her daughter, who lived in the same town as the respondent, without a DVPO.  The respondent argued he was not a threat to the petitioner because he was still living in Montana.  He offered evidence he had completed a Montana domestic violence treatment program.

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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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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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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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