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Know the Laws: Washington

UPDATED August 10, 2017

Stalking Protection Orders

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A stalking protection order is a civil order that provides protection from a person who is stalking or cyberstalking you regardless of your relationship to him/her.  However, if you are being stalked by a current or former intimate partner, someone you are related to, or someone who you live(d) with, please see our Domestic Violence Orders for Protection (DVOP) page since that order may be the appropriate one to file.

Basic info and definitions

back to topWhat is the legal definition of stalking in Washington?

For the purposes of getting a stalking protection order, the petitioner has to be a victim of “stalking conduct.”*  The law defines “stalking conduct” as any of the following:

  • Any act of stalking as defined under by law;
  • Any act of cyberstalking as defined by law;
  • Any course of conduct involving repeated or continuing contacts, including attempts to contact, monitor, track, keep you under observation, or follow you that:
    • would cause a reasonable person to feel intimidated, frightened, or threatened;
    • actually causes you to feel intimidated, frightened or threatened; and
    • The stalker knows or reasonably should know his/her conduct threatens, frightens, or intimidates you, even if the stalker did not intend to intimidate, frighten, or threaten you.
If the stalking-like behavior serves a lawful purpose, it cannot be considered stalking.**

Note: The judge cannot deny your order because you did not report the stalking to the police.  Also, the judge cannot require you to show proof of the abuser’s intentions behind his/her actions in order to grant you a stalking protection order.***

* R.C.W. § 7.92.040
** R.C.W. § 7.92.020(3)
*** R.C.W. § 7.92.100(1)(b)

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back to topWhere can I file for a stalking protection order?

A petition for a stalking protection order can be filed in the county where you live, unless you have moved to get away from the stalker. Then you can file in either the county where you previously lived or the county where you currently live.*

* R.C.W. § 7.92.050(8)

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Getting the order

back to topWho can file for a stalking protection order? Can a minor file?

If you do not qualify for a domestic violence order of protection, you may be eligible for a stalking protection order if you are the victim of stalking or cyberstalking, as defined by law.  A minor who is at least sixteen can file on his/her own.*  Also, you can file on behalf of a minor child if you are:

  • the child’s parent;
  • the child's legal guardian; or
  • if you are an adult who lives with the child - but only if the person the child is filing against is not his/her parent.*1

You may also file on behalf of a “vulnerable adult” who is the victim of stalking if you are what the laws considers to be an “interested person.”*2  A vulnerable adult is defined as someone who:

  • is 60 years old or older and is not physically or mentally able to care for himself or herself;
  • was declared incapacitated by a judge;
  • has a developmental disability;
  • was admitted into a facility;
  • is receiving services from a home health care aide or agency, a hospice, or an individual provider; or
  • is directing his/her own care and receiving services from a personal aide.*3

An interested person is anyone who proves to the judge that:

  • s/he is interested in the welfare of the vulnerable adult;
  • s/he has a good faith belief that the court's intervention is necessary; and
  • at the time the petition is filed, the vulnerable adult is unable to protect his or her own interests due to incapacity, undue influence, or duress.*4

Note: If you file on behalf of a minor or a vulnerable adult and the judge issues an order, the protections only apply to the victim, not to you, even though you are the “petitioner” (unless the order says otherwise).*5

* R.C.W. §§ 7.92.040; 7.92.050(2)
*1 R.C.W. § 7.92.040(1),(2)(a)
*2 R.C.W. § 7.92.040(2)(b)
*3 R.C.W. § 74.34.020(22)
*4 R.C.W. § 74.34.020(12)
*5 R.C.W. § 7.92.100(3)

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back to topHow long does a stalking protection order last?

An ex parte stalking order generally lasts for 14 days, unless the judge allows you to serve your paperwork by mail or by publication. In those cases, the emergency order can last up to 24 days.*  A final stalking protection order can last a fixed period of time or be permanent.**

* R.C.W. § 7.92.120(4)
** R.C.W. § 7.92.130(1)

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back to topHow can a stalking protection order help me?

In a stalking protection order, the judge can order the abuser to:

  • not have any contact with you directly, indirectly or through another person (a “third party”); (Note: It does not matter if the other person (third party) who contacts you knows about the order or not.)
  • not enter the home, work, school, or daycare of you or your child;
  • stay a certain distance away from a specific location;
  • not keep you or your children under surveillance (including electronic surveillance);
  • pay all court costs, service fees, and reimburse you for any costs you paid to bring the protection order case including reasonable attorney’s fees; and
  • not do any other actions that are necessary or appropriate to keep you safe (including ordering a mental health or drug evaluation of the stalker).*
If you and the person stalking you attend the same public or private elementary, middle, or high school, the judge must consider the following additional factors:
  • how serious the stalker’s behavior is;
  • any continuing physical danger or emotional distress to you; and
  • the expense, difficulty and educational disruption that would be caused by transferring the stalker to another school since the judge can order that the stalker not attend your school.  If this happens, the stalker’s parent(s) or guardian(s) are responsible for his/her transportation and other costs of changing schools.**
* R.C.W. § 7.92.100(2)
** R.C.W. § 7.92.100(4)

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back to topWhat if the abuser violates the order?

Violating an order for protection is against the law.  There are two ways to get help if the abuser violates the order.

You may file for civil contempt for a violation of the order.  The abuser may be in "civil contempt" if s/he does anything that your order for protection orders him/her not to do.  To file for civil contempt, go to the clerk's office in the courthouse where the order was issued and ask for the forms to file for civil contempt.

You can also seek justice through the criminal justice system by reporting the abuser to the police.  Violation of an order of protection can be a "gross misdemeanor," which is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for up to 364 days, a fine o up to $5,000, or both.  In certain cases, such as where there have been prior violations of orders of protection or if the abuser commits an assault when violating the order, it can be a class c felony, which is punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.*

* R.C.W. §§ 26.50.110(1)(a),(4),(5); 9A.20.021(1)(c),(2)

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