If you find yourself in an abusive relationship, you may not know where to turn. Finding a way to protect yourself from the abuse may be your first step. Civil orders with criminal penalties may offer the protection you need.
The Difference Between Civil and Criminal
Criminal cases involve crimes committed against the government or society, although a person may have been harmed during the commission of a crime. A prosecutor represents the state or federal government in court hearings and trials.
However, civil cases involve disagreements between people, companies, or other legal entities. Civil law covers a broad spectrum of cases from evictions to divorce to breach of contract. In some civil lawsuits, a plaintiff sues a defendant. Private attorneys and in-house counsel may file lawsuits and represent their clients in hearings and trial.
Restraining orders combine civil and criminal law. For example, Steven had a fellow HOA member in his community, Roger, that kept calling him and leaving voicemails about the new bird house he had placed on his deck was not to code. Even though Michael repeatedly told Roger to stop calling, Roger kept calling for weeks. Steven finally filed a petition in civil court requesting a protection order. The judge granted Steven’s request for a protection order and warned Roger that if he were to contact Steven again, he would be arrested and charged with a crime.
What is a Restraining Order?
Also known as civil protection orders, restraining orders are signed by a civil court judge upon the request of someone who needs protection from another person. Although the harasser may face criminal charges, a civil court rules on a request for a restraining order.
State law offers Washington residents six different types of civil protection orders:
- Domestic Violence,
- Extreme Risk,
- Sexual Harassment,
- Vulnerable Adult
In Steven and Roger’s situation, Steven is the victim of “unlawful harassment” and was granted an anti-harassment protection order, because Roger’s behavior served no lawful legitimate purpose and Roger continued to violate Steven’s request that he stop calling.
What Happens if You Violate a Protection Order?
Violators of civil protection orders face criminal penalties. For a first-time offense, someone who violates a restraining order might be charged with a gross misdemeanor, face up to 364 days in jail, and/or be fined up to $5,000. After several convictions, a violator might be charged with a class C felony with up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
In Daphne’s case, David continued to violate protective orders. He finally was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison.
A Civil Protection Order May Provide the Relief You Need
If you feel harassed by another person’s behavior, call Sarah Cho to discuss your options. After listening to the facts of your case, she can let you know the best course of action to take.
Call (425) 747-0582 for a free consultation with lawyer Sarah Cho. She gladly uses her experience and training to assist clients like you. From her office located in Bellevue, Washington, Ms. Cho represents clients throughout the Seattle area.
The sooner you call, the faster we can help!