Civil Protection Orders
Antiharassment, Domestic Violence, Extreme Risk, Sexual Assault, Stalking, and Vulnerable Adult
Washington State law allows for a person to file a civil case in court asking a judge to grant an order to protect them from another person whose behavior is abusive, threatening, exploitive or seriously alarming. The primary purpose of most is to order the "respondent" to not contact or harm the "petitioner." Unlike other protection orders, an Extreme Risk Protection Order does not provide protection to the petitioner. Its primary purpose is to order the respondent to surrender weapons.
There are 6 types of protections orders, intended for specific situations. State law establishes who can seek them, who they can protect, who they can restrain, the types of protections and relief they offer, when and where court hearings are conducted, what costs may be incurred, etc.
Two types of protection orders are primarily filed in District Court: Antiharassment and Stalking. A case can be transferred to or filed in Superior court IF:
- The petitioner/victim or the respondent (harasser/stalker) is under 18 years old.
- The action involves title or possession of real property, and the respondent claims an interest in that property such as ownership or right to occupy.
- The action would interfere with the respondent's care, control or custody of his/her child under 18.
- The Superior Court has jurisdiction over a case involving the petitioner/victim and the Respondent.
Petitioners choose which type of protection order is most appropriate for them to pursue. However, protection orders do not cover everyone’s needs; there may be other legal remedies that are appropriate.
Civil Protection Order Information
Antiharassment Protection Order (RCW 10.14)
A petition can be filed by:
- An adult who is a victim of unlawful harassment.
- Parents, on behalf of their child:
- Against an adult whose behavior is detrimental to the child.
- Against a minor who is under investigation or has been adjudicated of an offense against the child.
"Unlawful Harassment" means:
A knowing and willful course of conduct which seriously alarms, annoys, harasses, or is detrimental to such person, and which services no legitimate or lawful purpose. The conduct shall be such as would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, and shall actually cause substantial emotional distress to the petitioner, or, when the course of conduct would cause a reasonable parent to fear for the well-being of their child.
"Course of conduct" means:
A pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of purpose.
Domestic Violence Protection Order (RCW 26.50)
A petition can be filed by a person who is a victim of domestic violence or fears violence by a family or household member. This includes:
- Persons who are or were married.
- Persons who are or were domestic partners.
- Persons who have a child in common.
- Adults who do or did reside together.
- Persons 16 years or older who have or had a dating relationship.
- Adults who are related by blood or marriage.
- Persons with a biological or legal parent-child relationship, including step-parents and step-children, and grandparents and grandchildren.
Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) may petition on behalf and with the consent of a vulnerable adult.
"Domestic Violence" means:
- Physical harm, bodily injury.
- The infliction of fear of imminent physical harm.
- Sexual assault.
Extreme Risk Protection Order (Initiative Measure No. 1491)
A petition can be filed by a law enforcement agency, a law enforcement officer, or a person who is a family or household member of the respondent. Family or household member includes:
- Persons related by blood, marriage, or adoption
- Dating partners
- Persons who have a child in common
- Persons who reside or have resided with the respondent within the past year
- Domestic partners
- Persons who have a biological or legal parent-child relationship, including stepparents and stepchildren, and grandparents and grandchildren
- A person who is acting or has acted as the respondent’s legal guardian
The petitioner must show that the respondent poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to self or others in the near future by having in his or her custody or control, purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm.
The court can order that the respondent surrender weapons but this type of protection order does not provide any protection for the petitioner.
Costs to petitioner:
- No fee for forms, filing, or certified copies.
- No fee required for service of documents on the respondent, if performed by law enforcement.
- Available from the Clerk: Room W-378 at the KCCH (Seattle) and in Room 2C at the MRJC (Kent).
- Downloadable from www.courts.wa.gov/forms.
- Case shall be filed in the county where either the petitioner or respondent resides. If the petitioner is a law enforcement officer, the address is that of the law enforcement agency.
- Filed as a stand-alone civil case.
- The initial hearing for emergency ex parte temporary orders are held in the Ex Parte Department: Room W-325 at the KCCH (Seattle) and Room 1J at the MRJC (Kent).
- Return hearings: The day, the courtroom, and the judge vary.
- Weapons surrender compliance hearing: Heard on Friday, at 1:30 pm. Seattle and Kent cases will be set for hearing in Seattle.
Sexual Assault Protection Order, (RCW 7.90)
A petition can be filed by:
- By a person, 16 or older, who is a victim of sexual assault (unless the victim qualifies for a domestic violence protection order).
- Any person* on behalf of a victim of sexual assault (unless the victim qualifies for a domestic violence protection order) who is:
- A child.
- A vulnerable adult as defined in RCW 74.34.020.
- An adult who cannot petition due to age, disability, health or inaccessibility.
*The court may require the participation of a parent or guardian on behalf of a minor. The court will determine if a person has legal standing to file a petition on behalf of another person.
"Sexual Assault" means:
- Nonconsensual (meaning lack of freely given agreement) sexual touching of the genitals, anus or breasts - either directly or through clothing.
- Nonconsensual sexual penetration, however slight, of the genitals or anus by a body part of another including the mouth or the use of objects.
- Forced display of the genitals, anus or breasts for the purpose of sexually arousing another.
Stalking Protection Order (RCW 7.92)
A petition for a stalking protection order may be filed (if the victim does not qualify for a domestic violence protection order):
- By a person who is a victim of stalking conduct
- On behalf of any of the following persons who is a victim of stalking conduct:
"Stalking Conduct" means:
Any act of stalking as defined under RCW 9A.46.110: A person intentionally and repeatedly harasses or repeatedly follows another person, AND
- the person being harassed or followed is placed in fear that the stalker intends to injure the person, another person, or property of the person or of another person. The feeling of fear must be one that a reasonable person in the same situation would experience under all the circumstances; AND
- the stalker either: intends to frighten, intimidate, or harass the person; or knows or reasonably should know that the person is afraid, intimidated, or harassed even if the stalker did not intend to place the person in fear or intimidate or harass the person.
Any act of cyberstalking as defined under RCW 9.61.260: With intent to harass, intimidate, torment, or embarrass any other person, and under circumstances not constituting telephone harassment, the stalker makes an electronic communication to a person or third party:
- using any lewd, lascivious, indecent, or obscene words, images, or language, or suggesting the commission of any lewd or lascivious act;
- anonymously or repeatedly whether or not conversation occurs; or
- threatening to inflict injury on the person or property of the person called or any member of his or her family or household.
Any course of conduct involving repeated or continuing contacts, attempts or contact, monitoring, tracking, keeping under observation, or following another [person] that:
- would cause a reasonable person to feel intimidated, frightened, or threatened and that actually causes such a feeling;
- serves no lawful purpose; AND
- the stalker knows or reasonably should know threatens, frightens, or intimidates the person, even if the stalker did not intend to intimidate, frighten, or threaten the person.
Vulnerable Adult Protection Order (RCW 74.34)
A petition can be filed by:
- A vulnerable adult who is a victim of:
- Abuse (sexual, mental, physical)
- Financial exploitation
- The threat of any of these:
- A legal guardian, legal fiduciary, the Department of Social and Health Services, or an "interested person" on behalf of the vulnerable adult.
"Vulnerable adult" includes:
- Someone who:
- Is over 60 years old and without the functional, mental, or physical ability to care for him or herself.
- Someone who is 18 years or older and:
- Was found incapacitated
- Has a developmental disability
- Has been admitted to a DSHS-licensed care facility or received in-home care from a provider under DSHS contract
- Self directs at-home care from a compensated personal aide.
*The court will determine if the vulnerable adult is unable, due to incapacity, undue influence or duress, to protect his or her own interest.
*The court will determine if a person has legal standing to file a petition on behalf of the vulnerable adult.
Other types of orders
The vast majority of people come to the Clerk after an incident where a police officer advised them to go to court to get a “no contact” or “restraining” order. No contact and restraining orders can also order a person not to contact or harm someone, but they are not protection orders and are used in different situations.
No-contact orders: Requested by the prosecuting attorney in a criminal case to protect the victim or witness of the crime. For information about obtaining or terminating a criminal “no-contact” order, contact the King County Prosecuting Attorney.
Restraining orders: Requested by the parties as part of an existing domestic cases such as a divorce or a case to determine paternity, custody, child support or visitation. To read about restraining orders, visit: www.washingtonlawhelp.org/WA and www.kcll.org. To download domestic restraining order forms, visit Washington Pattern Forms: www.courts.wa.gov/forms
DV Protection Order Advocacy Program
KC Jail Inmate Custody Status Notification Service
Protection Order Forms and Guidelines Online