Restraining Orders in the King County, Washington
Situations where of Civil Protection Orders in Washington
There are a few different types of restraining orders and typically only one of them may apply to your situation. The first step is to see if any of the different types of restraining order applies to your situation or is remotely related as that might help you decide whether to apply .
The types are:
Domestic Violence is for situations involving romantic partners, ex-es, dating partners, roommates and family members when one person hurts the other physically, sexually or even emotionally by blackmailing or by being controlling. What is the legal definition of Domestic Violence in the Washington State.
Example 1: Husband is sexually and verbally abusive, and controlling
My husband doesn't allow me the option to say no to sex, and often that warning is not explicit but I know bad things will happen if I say no such as bullying, threats and immense tension. As a couple we have been having sex everyday for nearly two decades now. He verbally abuses me by calling me a whore if I don't sleep with him. During this time he is intoxicated so I am fearful of having a discussion as his anger will quickly get out of control, and he will hurl things at home thereby inducing more fear in me. Such behavior has been going on for over a decade now so I am not sure about the date of the first incident now. One day I very carefully chose my words and mentioned that maybe we are not a right fit, and should seek counseling. He was enraged and threated me that he will utterly destroy me, my work reputation, and expose some minor things I did to the immigration authorities. Since about six months, I have been sleeping in a separate room. He comes there routinely and tries to sleep with me forcefully. Often times I feel that if I resist, or decline his advances that my reputation, our property, or even me life will me in danger. I feel little, humiliated and disgusted with myself.
Example 2: Boyfriend blackmails and destroys property to control and induce fear
Today, Michael was armed with a pistol and seemed to be under the influence of an unidentified substance. He made threats to create false narratives with the aim of jeopardizing my 28-year accounting career, stating he would falsely accuse me of engaging in illegal financial activities. His menacing statement, "if you mess with me, I'll retaliate," was accompanied by destructive actions, such as damaging property in my home, including creating a hole in the wall. Michael's behavior becomes particularly alarming when he is under the influence of drugs.
Example 3: Ex-boyfriend stalks
Jenna's ex-boyfriend shows up at Jenna's work unexpectedly and drives around. Jenna is fearful, and had earlier clearly asked him to leave her alone.
Antiharassment applies to situations involving repeated irritating behavior, stalking, abuse, or threatened by someone you are not as close to as is required under domestic violence cases, like a roommate, a neighbor, or more distant family members like cousins, aunts or uncles, or nieces or nephews.
Vulnerable Adult: A senior citizen (or an adult who cannot function independently) is being abused by a caretaker, neighbor or child .
Extreme (Firearm) Risk: Typically, a police officer or sheriff who thinks someone might hurt themselves or someone else with a gun. This can stop that person from buying or owning a gun. It can't order them to stay away from someone.
Stalking: An employer usually requests these to protect their employee(s) from a person who has stalked, harassed, been violent or threatened violence at the workplace.
Sexual Assault involves involving unwanted sexual conduct by someone who is not a romantic partner or an ex- or a roommate or a member of the victim's family or household.
Still Unsure ?
Answer few questions anonymously to see which one is suitable
How Restraining Orders Solve the Problem
The purpose of a restraining order is to restrict the contact or proximity of one person (the respondent or alleged perpetrator) to another person (the petitioner or victim) in order to ensure the safety and well-being of the petitioner.
The specific terms of a restraining order can vary depending on the circumstances of the case e.g. if the people live together then it might require one party to vacate the place.
Typically, a restraining order may prohibit the respondent from
- Approaching or contacting the petitioner including via text or social media
- Staying away from the usual places petitioner is at such as home, work or school
- Prohibit stalking, or surveillance of any kind
- In situations where they lived together, provide custody or access to
- Important documents
- Personal items such as clothes, medications, cell phones
- Extending the protections to others living with the petitioner
Civil protective orders (such as a DVRO) are effective in reducing partner violence for many women. For half the women in the sample, a protective order stopped the violence. For the other half, the orders significantly reduced violence and abuse.
They are a relatively low-cost solution, particularly when compared with the social and personal costs of partner violence.
Urban Vs. Rural
The impact of civil protective orders on reducing violence and abuse did not differ for rural and urban women. In rural areas where resources and services for partner violence may be more limited, the restraining orders hold greater importance.
Process for Restraining Orders
Step 1: Gather evidence to support your case
The first step is to gather the evidence to support your case. The fallowing are considered as evidence of domestic violence
Evidence Type 1: Pending Criminal Case
Judges are also more likely to issue an order if there is an ongoing criminal case, therefore it’s important to call such cases out when seeking a temporary restraining order.
When a judge sees that there’s a criminal case happening, they might think it means the police or the district attorney are pretty sure they can prove the crime happened.
Examples of evidence are:
Evidence Type 2: Photos of violence, injuries, damage
These are the most common types of evidence submitted. These can be photos of victim’s injuries inflicted by the abuser. It is helpful to add photos next to the related incident description to help create a complete picture for the judge.
Evidence Type 3: Print outs of messages, emails or transcripts of voicemail
You can take screenshots of text messages and attach them. Similarly you can print emails and attach them as pictures or PDF files. While in most cases you cannot submit digital files such as
Evidence Type 4: 911 Calls
Rather than just saying you called 911 or any specific hotline, you can make your case stronger by listing the following items
- The number dialed in case of the domestic hotline
- The date and time (or approximate date and time) when the call was made
- Who made the call
- What was reported on the call
- Any specific details of the person who answer the 911 call e.g. male/female voice
Evidence Type 5: Medical Records
.You can attach documentation of previous medical emergencies or injuries that resulted from the actions of the abuser. These could be hospital visit records, print outs from your hospital portal (E.g. mychart) showing details of your visit.
Evidence Type 6: Police reports
You can attach a copy of the police reports filed against abuser for domestic violence.
Evidence Type 7: Testimony
- A testimony from a witness. The witness can be anyone such as a family member, neighbor a co-worker or a bystander. The testimony is just an essay written describing the incidents witnessed, with as many specifics as possible.
Step 2: Get a copy of court forms
In order to apply for a civil protection order, you need to fill and submit a specific set of official Washington court forms. These have questions aimed at understanding your situation and the people involved.
The most important form is the petition, and it's called Petition for Protection Order
PO 001 Petition for Protection Order
The complete set of documents is at the Washington Courts website. While these forms are used in most courts, certain courts use modified versions of these forms, and its important to uses those versions.
Tip: You can check your local court's website to see the exact versions and set of court forms needed. You need to prepare these forms. Courts also offers a free self help center where you can take forms. Alternatively you can use a free website such as LegalAtoms to prepare the restraining orders paperwork online.
Nothing happens until you file the forms. So its a good idea to step through the forms even if you think you don't plan to file for a protection order right now, to get
You can then file them online when you've thought through all aspects. There are special protections for victims, and you're protected even if your immigration status is undocumented in United States.
Step 3: File the Court Forms
Typically these are filed at your county's Superior Courts or District Court. Some of these courts are also called Family Justice Center.
Step 4: Get a Temporary Order
Depending on the facts and evidence presented, a Judge can issue a restraining order with immediate effect until the hearing, called an Emergency Temporary Order. In relatively less risky situations, a temporary order is issued in a few days.
If there are no grounds or if the application is incomplete or the jurisdiction is incorrect the application may be rejected.
The temporary order is only valid for about 3 weeks which is the amount of time until the hearing. If the hearing is delayed for any reason, you need to check with the court to ensure the temporary order is renewed until the hearing.
Step 5: Serve the abuser
- Clerk would have the abuser served by law enforcement. You don't need to do anything in this case
- Clerk would give you a packet of temporary order and other documents, and you will have it formally served via another adult or legal courier to the abuser
- In some cases such as when the respondent address is unknown, a complete set of Temporary Order and supporting documents called the "911- Packet" is handed to you. This is handy e.g. in case there is a confrontation with the abuser and cops get called, the cops can hand over physically the 911-packet to the abuser.
Step 6: Present Evidence in a Court Hearing
Attend a hearing: The court holds a hearing within a couple of weeks where the evidence is examined. If there is sufficient supporting evidence as determined by a Judge, a full restraining order is issued. At this point it becomes a crime for the abuser to break the conditions of the restraining order.
Step 7. Collect the Final Order
After the hearing, a final order may be issued. You can take a paper copy of the order with you. The order is typically valid for five years.
Some of the civil protection orders have no cost, owing to their use in protecting victims.
Domestic Violence: $0 (FREE)
Antiharassment: $ 53 - Or one can file for a fee waiver or its waived if its
- Stalking (as defined in RCW 9A.46.110)
- A hate crime (under RCW 9A.36.080(1)(c))
- A single act of violence or threat of violence (under RCW 7.105.010(35)(b)) OR
- From a person who has engaged in nonconsensual sex that constitutes a sex offense (as defined in RCW 9A.44.128)
Stalking: $0 (FREE)
Vulnerable Adult: $0 (FREE)
Extreme Risk: $0 (FREE)
You can get a temporary protection order the same day as you file.
Courts can have a cutoff of around 2 p.m. for the same day service, so you need to file before then. Otherwise, the order would be issued the following day when courts open.
Courts are generally open Monday-Friday and closed on Saturday-Sunday.
The temporary order is valid until a formal hearing is held in which both parties need to be present. Typically a hearing is scheduled in 2 weeks of filing.
At the hearing a formal order may be issued
It is conceivable that following the submission of a civil protection order, the abuser particularly in domestic violence situations may react with anger due to the perceived loss of control over you and your household. In certain instances, the abuser may portray themselves as the victim and shift blame onto the actual victim they were mistreating.
The response of your abuser after the filing of a protection order is unpredictable. While a Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO) can provide legal protection, one should not automatically assume that it guarantees safety. The initial weeks post-filing can be particularly precarious, contingent on your abuser's reaction.
Despite the safeguards intended by a DVPO, abusers may retaliate through various means, such as:
- Physical assault or violence
- Harming or taking away children
- Damaging jointly owned property
- Disregarding the order and persisting with threats, possibly through intermediaries
- Inflicting harm or causing harm to pets
- Harassing your loved ones for information
- Engaging in stalking behavior
- Initiating a retaliatory restraining order against you
- Spreading false information about you in court documents, online, or publicly
Following the submission of a domestic violence Protection order, it's important to continuously assess your situation and prepare for the potential escalation of your case into more violent territory.