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Domestic Violence Protection Orders: The Basics

Early in most Domestic Violence criminal cases the judge will issue a Protection Order, also known as a No Contact Order (NCO). A NCO in a domestic violence case prohibits the person charged with the crime from contacting the accuser, including through social media, text messages, phone calls or even through another third party like a friend or relative. Most NCO's will also include a geographical restriction prohibiting the person from going within a certain distance of any known location of the protected party, like their residence or workplace. This may leave the accused homeless if the protected person and accused person live together. These NCO's do not normally prohibit a parent from having contact with their children so long as the child is not the listed accuser, but an NCO can make it difficult to coordinate visitation if communication between the parents is prohibited. For more informaiton about these orders from the Spokane Court website, click here.

Most No Contact Orders last until there is a resolution of the criminal case, but they can remain in place even longer. In Spokane County either the person charged with the crime, the prosecutor or the accuser can schedule a hearing with the judge to request removal of an NCO. At this hearing the judge will consider the safety of the accuser, whether there is a history of domestic violence between the same individuals and the likelihood that communication between the parties would change the witness' testimony at trial. Generally, a judge will not remove a NCO without a formal court hearing.

Even if the judge decides to leave a NCO in place, it can be modified to allow communication for coordinating child visitation or other reasons the court deems necessary. If the accuser and person charged were living together and the accuser has moved out, then the judge may change the address restriction and allow the person charged to return home. At a hearing to recall a NCO it's important to make sure no statements are presented that could adversely affect the defense of the actual criminal charge. This is why any attempt to modify or remove a NCO should be discussed with your attorney first so they can assist you in preparing and presenting the arguments to the judge.

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