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Know the Laws: Washington

UPDATED August 10, 2017

Sexual Assault Protection Orders

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A sexual assault protection order provides protection from someone who has sexually assaulted you.

Basic information

back to topWhat is the legal definition of sexual assault in Washington?

For the purpose of getting a sexual assault protection order, the abuser must have committed one of two crimes against you: “nonconsensual sexual conduct” or “nonconsensual sexual penetration.”

Nonconsensual” means that you did not freely agree to the sexual conduct or penetration.*  If you “agreed” to the sexual contact because you were being threatened with physical harm, for example, that would not be considered that you “freely agreed” to the contact.

Sexual conduct is when the offender:

  • touches or fondles your genitals, anus, or breasts, including through clothing;
  • displays his/her genitals, anus, or breasts for the purposes of arousal or sexual gratification;
  • forces you to touch his/her genitals, anus, or breasts;
  • forces you to touch another person's genitals, anus, or breasts;
  • forces you to display your genitals, anus, or breasts for the purpose of sexual gratification;
  • touches the body (clothed or unclothed) of a child under the age of thirteen for the purposes of sexual gratification or arousal; or
  • forces a child under the age of thirteen to touch or fondle (including through clothing) his/her genitals, anus, or breasts.**

Sexual penetration is:

  • any contact between the sex organ or anus of one person by
    • an object, or
    • the sex organ, mouth or anus of another person; or
  • any intrusion into the sex organ or anus of one person by
    • any part of the body of another person, or
    • any animal, or
    • any object.***

Note: There does not have to be semen found to prove sexual penetration.***

* R.C.W. § 7.90.010(1)
** R.C.W. § 7.90.010(4)(a)-(f)
*** R.C.W. § 7.90.010(5)

 

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back to topWhat is a sexual assault protection order?

If you have been the victim of nonconsensual sexual conduct or penetration by someone you are/were not in an intimate relationship with and who is not your family or household member, you may be eligible to file for a sexual assault protection order.*  If you were sexually assaulted by a current/former intimate partner or family/household member, then you may qualify for a domestic violence order for protection.  See Domestic Violence Orders for Protection for more information.

A sexual assault protection order is a paper that is signed by a judge and can order the offender to have no contact with you, leave your home, stay away from you or your workplace, and may provide other kinds of protection you may need.**  For a full list of the ways that a sexual assault protection order can help you, go to How can a sexual assault protection order help me? If the offender violates any of the provisions in the order, s/he can face legal consequences.***

You can file for a sexual assault protection order regardless of whether or not there is pending litigation (for example, a lawsuit, complaint, petition, or other action) or another protection order between you and the offender.  However, if there is pending litigation or another protection order between you (such as a criminal court order) you do need to let the court know about this.****

* R.C.W. § 7.90.090(1)(a)
** R.C.W. § 7.90.090(2)
*** R.C.W. § 26.50.110
**** R.C.W. § 7.90.020(1),(2)

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back to topWhat types of sexual assault protection orders are available? How long do they last?

There are two types of sexual assault protection orders available in Washington:

  1. An ex parte temporary sexual assault protection order; and
  2. A final sexual assault protection order (which can be for a fixed period of time ("nonpermanent") or can be permanent).

You can get an ex parte temporary sexual assault protection order if you have been the victim of nonconsensual sexual conduct or penetration and the judge believes that you would likely be harmed by the offender if s/he were given notice of your petition before you got the sexual assault protection order.*  The offender does not need to be present or have notice of the hearing for a temporary sexual assault protection order, which is what is meant by the term “ex parte.”  An ex parte temporary order may be renewed one or more times as needed.**  

An ex parte temporary order is effective for a set period of time, which is usually up to 14 days (or up to 24 days if service by publication or service by mail is permitted).  The court will schedule a final hearing to determine whether or not to grant a final sexual assault protection order no later than 14 days (or 24 days) after the temporary protection order was issued.** 

A final sexual assault protection order will be granted if the judge believes that you have been a victim of nonconsensual sexual conduct or penetration.***  You will have the opportunity to prove this to the judge at the final sexual assault protection order hearing where you can present evidence, witnesses, testimony, etc.  We strongly recommend getting an attorney to represent you at the hearing, if possible, to make sure your legal rights are protected.  You can find legal referrals on our WA Finding a Lawyer page.  If you are unable to get a lawyer, you can get more information about preparing for court on our Preparing Your Case page.  The final order is effective for a fixed period of time (nonpermanent) or it can be permanent (last forever).  A nonpermanent order may be renewed one or more times if you file a motion for renewal stating the reasons why you want to renew it at any time within the three months before the order expires.****  See How do I extend my protection order?

* R.C.W. § 7.90.110(1)(a),(b)
** R.C.W. §§ 7.90.120(1)(a); 7.90.121(1)
*** R.C.W. § 7.90.090(1)(a)
**** R.C.W. § 7.90.120(2); 7.90.121(2)

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back to topHow can a sexual assault protection order help me?

A sexual assault protection order can:

  • order the respondent to not have any physical contact with you;
  • order the respondent to not have any nonphysical contact with you either directly (for example, no phone calls, mail, email, written notes, faxes, etc.) or indirectly (through another person, often called “a third party”);
  • exclude (remove) the respondent from your home, workplace, school, or the day care or school of your child (if the child is the victim) or other locations;
  • prohibit (forbid) the respondent from coming within a certain distance of your home, workplace, school, day care or other locations;
  • order the respondent to transfer schools if s/he attends the same school as you; and/or
  • anything else that the judge believes is necessary to protect you.*

* R.C.W. § 7.90.090(2)(a)-(d),(3); see also Petition for Sexual Assault Protection Order

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back to topWhere can I file the petition?

You can file in the county or municipality where you live.*

* R.C.W. § 7.90.040(6)

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