It’s a few days before your hearing, and your ex keeps trying to initiate contact with you. You know he has been served with the civil protection order and upcoming court date—but you’re terrified to think that he might show up at your door. What should you do if he violates the term of the protection order?

Who Can I Call for Help If Someone Violates the CPO?

If your ex violates the terms of the CPO, call the police. Your ex will be placed under mandatory arrest if he has attempted to initiate contact with you or enters a shared residence that he has been ordered to vacate. In addition, he could face possible criminal or contempt charges at the hearing.

WA State Penalties for Violation of a CPO Involving Domestic Violence

If your ex violates the protection order and is convicted, he may be ordered by the court to complete a yearlong State-certified domestic violence treatment program. Defendants will have to undergo 26 weeks of individual and group meetings—at their own expense—and must meet exit criteria before being discharged. A judge may also order mandatory alcohol and drug counseling, sexual deviancy treatment, or parenting courses.

If the abuser is convicted of a domestic violence offense, he will typically be placed on supervised probation for two years by the Seattle Municipal Court Probation Department’s Domestic Violence Unit. Probation officers monitor the abuser to ensure that he attends all court-ordered treatment programs and counseling sessions.

Federal Penalties for Violating a CPO

In addition to state mandates, federal law prohibits interstate travel with intent to violate a valid protection order or causing a spouse or partner to cross state lines by coercion, fraud, or force. Abusers may face up to 5 years in prison as a result of a federal protection order violation that results in bodily harm, or life in prison for a violent act that results in the victim’s death.

If someone in your family needs legal protection from an abuser, we can help. Click the contact link on this page to tell us your story, and we will contact you privately to discuss your options.

Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington