Should I file for a Civil Order Seeking Protection? A Civil Lawyer’s | Attorney’s Perspective based on Experience.
If you have read the section on Using Civil Orders of Protection to Address Harassment, Domestic Violence, Unwanted Sexual Behavior or Vulnerable Adult Abuse, you have a broad idea of what orders are available and what they are used for. The serious question that should always be considered with your civil attorney | lawyer is whether you should file a Civil Order Seeking Protection to begin with. In our experience, “cease and desist” letters from a lawyer’s office or a clear and direct phone call can fix certain situations; however, in others, these time and cost effective solutions seem to fan the flames or encourage the other party to file a Protection Order based on the concept that the “first to file” is at an advantage.
As attorneys | lawyers who have spent a lot of time in the courtroom arguing these orders, we find the only way to make a proper “command decision” about whether to file or not in these kinds of situations is to sit down and have a lengthy discussion about the facts surrounding the case, the nature of the parties, the nature of the conflict and then extrapolating out from this a command decision with our client’s input. Trying to pack the active listening and questioning necessary to make this kind of decision in anything less than 1-2 hours is not possible.
Common issues raised by potential clients in our meetings include:
- A Protection Order really can’t stop someone. We see this issue raised a lot by women in a violent relationship. Often these relationships are tainted with a “cycle of violence” that has left a women fearful, and, this fear is legitimate. The problem is that unless action is taken, nothing will change. We find the only command decision that works in these kinds of situations require (1) our client to contact a women’s shelter, New Beginnings is a solid group in the Seattle Area, and form a Domestic Violence Safety Plan along with filling the Protection Order (Our office and court forms allow addresses and contact information to be kept confidential). If you are really going to end all contact with a person permanently, being smart about it increases safety and contacting a women’s shelter gives you access to a group of women who have done it before and are wise. Their sole purpose is to help you end a bad relationship and help you gain self-insight so you don’t re-enter another one. Non-violent loving relationships do exist, but finding one requires that a woman or man have the courage to end their violent relationship and explore why they were in one in the first place. Protection Orders do help: getting one means the police do respond and they are required to arrest the offending party if they can find probable cause.
- The Protection Orders seem like a lot of Headache. If your situation is such that the Protection Order seems like too much work, you probably don’t need one. We file carefully orchestrated and worded Motions that are designed to prevail and doing so takes work. Your situation might be “ripe” for a phone call or letter from our office rather than a Protection Order.
- The Problem is not “Ripe”. This is more an observation we as attorneys make. Many potential clients come into the office upset over bad behavior and want the law to help them make it stop; however, in order for this to happen, they must stop playing into it. A girlfriend cannot expect a judge to grant a restraining order when she has not told her boyfriend clearly that the relationship is over and stops returning the calls she perceives as harassing. In order for a set of facts or situation to be ripe for a protection order, clear boundaries must be laid in order for a judge to find they have been crossed.
- What will the offending party do if I file? The answer is easy: they will likely fight it if they can and be upset. Unless the facts are clearly egregious, people rarely want to concede to a court order against them. Unless they are truly stupid, all behavior will stop until a judge makes a ruling. If they act out prior to the hearing, our case will have just gotten easier. Taking the steps to plan around any safety issues in advance is smart and essential.
- Cost of Representation | Litigation. Some people want Protection Orders but cannot afford effective counsel. The forms with instructions are available in most District Courts and Superior courts that allow you to file for a Protection Order on your own. Our office is not the cheap, but we are honest and sometimes willing to work with situations. Our prices depend on the complexity of the case, facts, and where we are filing. We have had cases involving Protection Orders take 10 hours and we have had Protection Order cases take 40 hours, it simply depends on the facts. We will assess your situation and give you a fair quote based on our experience and the effort involved in presenting cases to win.
- Fear of Public Hearings and Speaking in Public. Thinking and speaking in open court while making points or while asking or answering questions makes many people nervous. It should as it is difficult. Fortunately, our lawyers are way past this point in their careers. With our cases, most evidence given in Protection Order hearings is submitted in written format by our office so in general our clients do not need to talk much. We speak in detail with our clients about what will happen and what if anything they will need to talk about. If you are properly prepared and represented, your trust in your lawyer far exceeds your fear of the courtroom.
Over the course of our lengthy legal careers, our lawyers | attorneys have handled a wide variety of complicated and emotionally tangled cases in the criminal, civil and administrative legal arenas. Our office is a unique blend of courtroom experience, knowledge, skills and temperament. Our lawyers know cases are rarely as simple as the police reports or accusations claim. Our clients hire us because they want trained listeners who are staunch, uncompromising and effective. They want counsel who takes the time to listen and fight vigorously for the right result. Whether acting in our role as counsel, advocate, negotiator or litigator, we have years of experience manipulating, working and fighting to resolve cases with our clients’ best interests in mind.