Definition of Stalking in Washington State
Stalking is a serious crime in Washington State, defined as intentionally and repeatedly harassing or following another person, causing that person to feel frightened, threatened, oppressed, persecuted, or intimidated. This behavior can include physical actions such as following someone, making unwanted phone calls, sending unwanted text messages or emails, leaving unwanted gifts, or vandalizing someone’s property. According to the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 9A.46.110, stalking is a crime in Washington State and is punishable by imprisonment, fines, and other penalties.
If you are a victim of stalking in Washington State, you have the option to seek legal protection through a Stalking Protection Order (SPO). An SPO is a court order that prohibits the stalker from having any contact with the victim and from engaging in any further acts of stalking. A victim of stalking may file for an SPO in either criminal or civil court.
Obtaining Stalking Protection Order
To obtain an SPO, the victim must file a petition in the court in their county. The petition should include a description of the stalking behavior and a statement explaining how the behavior has impacted the victim’s life. It is important to provide as much detail as possible in the petition, including the dates and times of the incidents and any evidence or witnesses. The court will then schedule a hearing to determine whether to issue the SPO.
At the hearing, the victim will have the opportunity to present evidence and testimony to support their case. The stalker may also have the opportunity to present evidence and testimony, but they are not required to attend the hearing. After the hearing, the court will make a decision on whether to issue the SPO.
If the court issues an SPO, the stalker must be served with a copy of the order. The order will specify the restrictions placed on the stalker and the penalties for violating the order. It is important to note that a Stalking Protection Order is a serious legal matter, and anyone who violates an SPO can be arrested and charged with a crime.
It is also important to take steps to ensure your safety while the SPO is in place. This may include changing your phone number, email address, or place of work, as well as taking other safety precautions. You should also be aware that an SPO is not a guarantee of safety, and it is still possible for the stalker to pose a threat to your safety. If you feel that your safety is in danger, you should contact law enforcement immediately.
In addition to seeking an SPO, there are other resources available for victims of stalking in Washington State. These include domestic violence advocacy organizations, counseling services, and support groups. These organizations can provide emotional support, safety planning, and assistance in navigating the legal process.
If you are a victim of stalking in Washington State, it is important to take action to protect yourself. Obtaining a Stalking Protection Order is one option, but there are also other resources available to support you and help you feel safe. If you are unsure of what to do or need assistance, it is recommended that you contact an attorney or a local domestic violence advocacy organization for help.