Romantic and familial relationships can grow contentious and sometimes become violent. Sometimes relationships can become so contentious that one party seeks to have a court intervene and issue a civil protection order to prevent the other party from contacting them or engaging in other activities. Washington civil protection order attorneys know that a victim does not have to wait until they are seriously injured to seek a civil protection order. In some cases, a court may issue a civil protection order even if there has not been a physical assault, as seen in one recent case.
The former husband appealed a domestic violence protection order (DVPO) issued in favor of his ex-wife. In her petition, the ex-wife stated her ex-husband had violated the no-contact order entered after the divorce. She stated that he had threatened to kill her when she filed the protection order and that he had threatened her many times. She stated he had told her she could either be with him, or he would keep harassing her. She alleged he had a history of both suicidal and violent behaviors. The court granted her a temporary order and scheduled a hearing.
At the hearing, the ex-wife testified that she was afraid for her safety. She said she wanted the DVPO because the restraining order that was already in place was not working. The ex-husband also testified at the hearing and either denied or tried to explain the allegations.
At the end of the hearing, the court found there was a history of domestic violence and said it would enter an order for one year. The DVPO said that, based on the evidence, the court had found there was reasonable notice and an opportunity to be heard, the parties were former spouses, and the ex-husband had committed domestic violence as defined under the statute.
The ex-husband appealed, arguing the evidence was insufficient to support the court’s findings that he had committed domestic violence. The definition of “domestic violence” in RCW 26.50.030(1) includes not only “physical harm, bodily injury, [and] assault” but also the infliction of fear that this will occur imminently. It also includes stalking as defined in the statute. The definition also requires that these actions occur between family members or household members to constitute domestic violence.
As former spouses with children in common, the parties met the definition of family or household member. The ex-wife’s affidavit provided specific facts justifying the DVPO. She stated that she was “scared” and that her ex-husband had threatened to kill her and otherwise threatened her many times. She alleged he stalked her by keeping track of when she was home. She also stated her neighbor had seen him jump out of her window. The appeals court found the email and text messages the ex-husband had sent could be considered harassing and threatening. The appeals court found a reasonable person would know or should know “that she was afraid, intimidated, or harassed” because she had a restraining order and asked that he stop contacting her multiple times.
The appeals court found there was substantial evidence that the ex-husband stalked his ex-wife and that his actions put her in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, or assault. There was, therefore, substantial evidence that he had committed domestic violence.
The appeals court affirmed the DVPO and awarded the ex-wife attorney fees and costs.
As this case shows, a victim does not have to wait until he or she is seriously injured to seek a DVPO. Here, the appeals court found the evidence of threats and stalking was sufficient to support the DVPO.
If you are facing a situation involving a domestic violence protection order, the Washington civil protection order lawyers at Blair & Kim, PLLC can assist you. Whether you are pursuing or fighting a civil protection order, we have the experience and knowledge to help you through the process. Call us at (206) 622-6562 to discuss your case.
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