Under the Washington law (Chapter 26.50 RCW), a court can impose a restraining order. An Ex Parte Order (emergency order) can be put into place for up to 14 days or until the date of a full hearing on the matter. At a full hearing, the accused will have an opportunity to present their side of the case. Following this hearing, a court can put a Final Order for Protection in place.

If a domestic violence restraining order has been entered in Washington against you, you have the right to file an appeal

Standard of Review: Trial Courts Have Broad Discretion

In Washington, a trial court generally has broad discretion in determining whether or not a domestic violence restraining order is warranted. These are highly fact-specific cases—meaning the trial is responsible for conducting a comprehensive inquiry into what happened. 

An appeals court in Washington must determine if the trial court abused its discretion, exceeded the bounds of reason, or otherwise made a legal error. When multiple reasonable inferences or conclusions can be drawn from the same set of facts, an appeals court will defer to the trial court. 

In order to successfully appeal a domestic violence restraining order in Washington, a party must provide evidence demonstrating that the trial court made a material error in evaluating the facts or applying the law. 

Alternative Options: An Order May be Modified or Terminated 

In Washington State, a Final Order of Protection in a domestic violence case has a defined term or it can be permanent. In general, a domestic violence restraining order in Washington will last for one year or it will be permanent. By law, any Final Order of Protection that bars a person from having contact with a minor child can only last for one year. However, a one-year restraining order can be renewed by the court if deemed appropriate. 

If a Final Order of Protection was entered against you in Washington, you can appeal that matter. Once a certain amount of time has passed, an appeal may no longer be a viable option. In Washington, you may only have 30 days from the date the order was entered to file a Notice of Appeal. That being said, there may be other options available to you in the future to challenge an active domestic violence restraining order. Under Washington law, a restraining order can be: 

  • Modified; or
  • Terminated. 

Under Chapter RCW 26.50.130, Washington courts have the authority to “modify the terms of an existing order for protection or may terminate an existing order for protection” once all parties subject to the order have been notified. To be clear, obtaining a modification or termination is not easy. The court must find that there has been a “ substantial change in circumstances” that justifies such a change. This is a necessary but not sufficient condition. When domestic violence allegations are especially severe, a court may decline to modify/terminate a protective order even if there was a substantial change in circumstances.  

Speak to an Appellate Attorney in Washington Today 

At The Appellate Law Firm, our Washington appellate lawyers are strong, skilled advocates for justice. If you have any questions about appealing a restraining order, we can help. Contact us today for a strictly confidential initial consultation. With a law office in Seattle, our firm provides appellate law representation throughout the State of Washington.

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