No Contact Order Violations

What is a No Contact Order?

No Contact Orders are similar to Protection Orders in that they prohibit one person from contacting, harming or harassing another person. However, there are differences with this type of order. A No Contact Order is a criminal order and can only be entered if the alleged offender is being charged with a criminal offense or if it is a part of the sentencing for a criminal offense. Also, the alleged victim does not need to actually petition for the order since it is part of the criminal case against the alleged offender. The court will usually determine whether this type of order is necessary when the alleged offender is released from jail on bail or personal recognizance, or when he is sentenced. No Contact Orders commonly arise from domestic violence cases, though they can also arise from other types of cases that involve violence and/or harassment.

Violating a No Contact Order:

In Washington State, a No Contact Order violation charge requires proof that:

  • There was a valid order in place,
  • The offender was given valid notice of the order, AND
  • The prohibited contact was made

The burden is on the state to prove the above elements.

Prohibited contact includes both direct and indirect contact with the protected person, or being in close proximity to the protected person. The offender has violated the order even if the protected person did not object to the contact, or even if the protected person wished for the contact.

Penalties for a No Contact Order Violation in Washington:

Violation of a No Contact Order is usually considered a gross misdemeanor, which RCW §9A.20.021 defines as punishable by up to one year in jail, a maximum fine of $5,000, or both.

However, violation of a No Contact Order can be considered a class C felony if it occurred through an act of reckless endangerment or assault, or if the offender has two or more previous convictions for similar violations, in which case, pursuant to RCW §9A.20.021, it is punishable by up to five years in prison, a maximum fine of $10,000, or both.

Defending a No Contact Order Violation Charge:

There are multiple strategies for defending a No Contact Order violation charge. One example would be challenging any of the above elements, if possible. You might be able to prove that the No Contact Order was invalid, that you were not aware of the order, or that you did not, in fact, make any contact with the protected person. Your defense strategy is crucial, and the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney is strongly advised.