What Are NCOs in Domestic Violence Cases?Posted on February 21, 2018 in Domestic Violence
A domestic violence offense in Washington State consists of a criminal act of aggression committed by one member of a family or household against another. Often, when a domestic violence offense is alleged, the judge will issue a no-contact order (NCO) that prohibits the accused from contacting the purported victim for a specified period. These orders generally remain in effect while the domestic violence case is pending and ongoing.
The contact prohibition includes every form of contact possible including in person, phone, text, another messaging system, writing, or via a third party. In addition, NCOs often require you to remain a certain distance away from the alleged victim’s residence, school, or place of employment.
If you have been accused of domestic violence, it’s important to retain a dedicated and skilled domestic violence attorney who can effectively deal with the complicated issues involved in your case. At The Law Offices of Morgan Fletcher Benfield, PLLC, we can provide a strong legal defense on your behalf to ensure your rights are protected.
Types of NCOs in Washington
Two types of no contact orders are applicable in the state of Washington. These are: pretrial and post-conviction NCOs. In either case, the accused is not permitted to have contact with the alleged victim. The NCO only restricts the behavior of the accused in attempting to make contact, not the alleged victim’s behavior. However, if you respond to attempted contact, you can be charged with violating the order.
These orders also preclude contact with the alleged victim’s children, even if they are also your children. As the accused, you will also be restricted from visiting the alleged victim’s home (even if it’s your home too) and their place of work.
Violating a No Contact Order
If you violate any NCO, it will be treated as a completely separate offense from your original domestic violence case, with its own distinct penalties. You will face a gross misdemeanor if you have two or fewer prior convictions for violating such an order and the contact you made does not include an assault.
Punishments can include up to one year in jail along with a $5,000 fine as well as other penalties associated with the domestic violence charges. If your domestic violence charge included an assault or you possess a history of violating a similar protection order, you may face a Class C felony with a maximum prison sentence of five years and a $10,000 fine.
Violating an NCO is considered a crime of domestic violence itself and can cause you to lose your right to own or possess a firearm upon conviction.
If you have been issued a no-contact order and see the alleged victim at any place, including a public venue, such as a retail or grocery store, you must leave the location. Any contact you make with the victim, regardless of location, may be evaluated by the judge as a violation of the order.
Removing the Order
Removing a contact order is quite difficult. Even if the supposed victim petitions the court for the NCO to be removed, judges will generally leave it in place for an extended period.
One possible option to have the order removed is to be evaluated by a domestic violence treatment provider. A counselor at such an agency may be willing to testify to the judge that you do not pose a danger to the individual in question and that the order can be safely rescinded.
If a NCO is modified to allow certain conditional contact, a judge may be more likely to drop the order later, unless a new issue arises.
A Lawyer Can Help
If you are facing a domestic violence charge in Washington State, you need strong advocacy from an understanding and effective domestic violence attorney, who will fight for your rights and the best possible outcome. At The Law Offices of Morgan Fletcher Benfield, PLLC, we can review the details of your case, evaluate your NCO, and provide a path forward.