What if the abuser violates the order?
Violating an order for protection is against the law. There are two ways to get help if the abuser violates the order.
You may file for civil contempt for a violation of the order. The abuser may be in “civil contempt” if s/he does anything that your order for protection orders him/her not to do. To file for civil contempt, go to the clerk’s office in the courthouse where the order was issued and ask for the forms to file for civil contempt.
You can also seek justice through the criminal justice system by reporting the abuser to the police. Violation of an order of protection can be a “gross misdemeanor,” which is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for up to 364 days, a fine o up to $5,000, or both. In certain cases, such as where there have been prior violations of orders of protection or if the abuser commits an assault when violating the order, it can be a class c felony, which is punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.1
A violation of either of the following two provisions subjects the respondent to a mandatory arrest:
- Violating the part of the order that says “do not cause or threaten domestic violence;” or
- Entering a residence, workplace, school, daycare of children, or other areas the judge has ordered the respondent to vacate or stay away from.2
Note: It is important to note that arrest is mandatory on domestic violence calls even without an existing protection order if the officer has probable cause to believe the abuser (who is 16 years old or older) committed an assault within the preceding four hours.3 To read more information about what type of assault must have been committed, you can read the law on our WA Statutes page, section 10.31.100(2)(c).
1 R.C.W. §§ 26.50.110(1)(a),(4),(5); 9A.20.021(1)(c),(2)
2 R.C.W. § 10.31.100(2)
3 R.C.W. § 10.31.100(2)(c)