Legal Advocacy Services Guide

Categories: Advocacy, Community, Education and Training, Get Involved

Legal terms can be tricky. Understanding the difference between a protection order and a restraining order doesn’t come up often in day-to-day life, unless your favorite crime show mentions it; however, in cases of Domestic Violence, these terms and rules can be crucial for a survivor’s safety. We receive questions often about what our legal advocates and attorneys do for our clients. To learn more about our legal services, please read our guide below.


Key Terms for Criminal Legal Advocacy

We have advocates assigned to all Misdemeanor cases in Spokane City Municipal Court and Spokane County District Court. Below are terms often used in this field of work.

  • Misdemeanors Regarding Domestic Violence:
    • Assault 4th degree- an Assault without substantial bodily harm or use of a weapon
    • Malicious Mischief 3rd Degree- damaged property less than $750
    • Violation of Order- Applied for both Civil and Criminal orders
      • Felony cases are any DV case with substantial bodily harm, use of a weapon, property damage of more than $750 or any assault that takes place when there is an order in place.
  • 1st Appearance:
    • The 1st time someone sees a judge after being arrested. The judge decides whether to put a bond in place, whether to issue a no-contact order, other release conditions and sets the next court date. We call all listed victims before these hearings.
  • Pre-Trials:
    • We contact all listed victims before the pre-trial to get updated info and make sure they are aware of the court date. At these hearings, the case can be continued out, resolved in a plea deal or set for trial. We follow up with every listed victim we spoke with after to let them know what happened.
  • Trials:
    • Although most cases do not go to trial, legal advocates attend meetings with the victim(s) to prepare for the trial. The trial hears the case from attorneys on both sides.
  • Motions:
    • When the listed victim’s files to have the court remove the no contact order. Our attorneys speak on behalf of the listed victim in court to communicate why they want the order to be recalled. The decision is up to the judge, though typically these are denied and the orders will remain in place until the resolution of a case.
  • LAP’s:
    • Lethality Assesment Protocol (LAP) evaluates the lethality of the relationship. If a victim yields results that indicate the relationship could be lethal, they are put on the phone with an Advocate through the helpline. Read more about LAP here.
  • Law Enforcement Assistance:
    • Law Enforcement often asks legal advocates to join them in speaking with victims as a buffer and third-party witness during interviews. This sometimes means legal advocates are going to victim’s homes. We also follow up on all cases Law Enforcement flags as concerning.

Civil Protection Order

A Civil Protection Order restrains the respondent from specific contacts listed in the order, which can include exclusion from the home, work, school, daycare, telephone, electronically, in writing or third party.

The legal definition of domestic violence required to obtain a Protection Order:

  • (a) Physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault, between family or household members;
  • (b) sexual assault of one family or household member by another; or
  • (c) stalking as defined in RCW 9A.46.110 of one family or household member by another family or household member.

To fill out the order, YWCA Spokane Legal Advocates assist in an overview of the paperwork and Clients are required to fill in their own personal information and explain all the DV that has taken place in their own words. Victims can attach any evidence they feel is necessary like, screenshots of threatening text messages, pictures of injuries or damaged property or witness statements. Three copies of any piece of evidence are required, one to be served on the other party, one for the court and one for themselves. And evidence needs to be filed 3 business days before the hearing.

Once a hearing for the Civil Protection order is signed off by a judge they will receive a court date for two weeks away. During that two­week period, Law Enforcement will try to find the other party and serve them with the order and summons to appear in court for that court date.  Both sides get an opportunity to speak at the hearing. The Protected party speaks first and typically is given an opportunity for a final response.

Orders are typically in place for one year. Civil Protection orders can be renewed if a renewal Is filed before the expiration of the order. YWCA Spokane Legal Advocates can also assist with this process. If there are children involved, they may be added to these orders and have the same protections as the protected parent.


No Contact Order

A No Contact Order restrains the respondent from any contact with the victim including home, work, school, daycare, telephone, electronically, in writing or third party. Victims of domestic violence may obtain these orders where the incident has been reported to the police and there are pending charges. The prosecuting attorney must make the request for this type of order. There is no expiration date to no contact orders while the charges are pending, and once the perpetrator is convicted, orders can be valid for up to 5 years. If the order is violated, the result for the perpetrator is a mandatory arrest and booking into jail.


Restraining Order

A restraining order restrains the respondent from specific contacts listed in the order. It is usually included in the dissolution paperwork. Restraining orders may only be obtained if the victim is either married to the respondent or has a child in common with him/her; and the order may only be obtained victim files a petition for divorce, legal separation, or child custody. The duration of the order is listed in the final decree, and is permanent until modified. If the order is violated, contempt charges may be filed; law enforcement likely won’t arrest.


Anti- Harassment Order

An Anti-Harassment Order restrains the respondent from specific contact listed in the order, generally addressing the annoyance or harassment. This type of order is granted to a petitioner who has been seriously alarmed, annoyed, or harassed by conduct that serves no legitimate or lawful purpose. Victims must file this type of petition, and it costs $73 in District Court, $53 in Superior Court. These types of orders may last up to one year. If the order is violated, the police may use their discretion to arrest or hold the perpetrator in contempt.


Our Legal Services

If you are a victim of domestic violence and need assistance with legal action, please call 509-789-CALL (2255) to get in touch with our Legal Advocacy Team. Learn more about our legal services here.

LEGAL SERVICES