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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.

Getting a sexual assault protection order

back to topAm I eligible to file for an sexual assault protection order?

A sexual assault protection order is only for a victim of sexual assault who does not qualify for a domestic violence order for protection.*  If you qualify for a domestic violence order for protection, then that would be the petition you would file, not a sexual assault protection order petition. See our Am I eligible to file for a domestic violence order for protection? for more information about which order you might qualify for.

To get a sexual assault protection order, you must show that you have been the victim of nonconsensual sexual conduct or penetration. The judge cannot require proof of physical injury or proof that you reported the sexual assault to law enforcement when considering whether to give you the order.**  For the definitions of nonconsensual sexual conduct and sexual penetration, go to: What is the legal definition of sexual assault in Washington?

Note: If the judge believes that you were the victim of sexual assault, the judge cannot deny your petition for a sexual assault protection order even if any of the following are true:

  • you and/or the offender were voluntarily intoxicated (drunk, on drugs, etc.);
  • you engaged in some consensual sexual touching before the sexual assault;***
  • you did not report the assault to law enforcement;
  • you or the offender are minors (under age 18); or
  • you do not have proof of a physical injury.****

These things should not matter to the judge when deciding whether or not to grant you a sexual assault protection order.

* R.C.W. § 7.90.030(1)(a)
** R.C.W. § 7.90.090(1)(b)
*** R.C.W. § 7.90.090(4)
**** R.C.W. § 7.90.090(1)(b)

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back to topHow much does it cost to get a sexual assault protection order?

There is no fee for filing the petition or for having it served on the offender (known as “service of process”).  Also, you should be provided with however many certified copies that you need free of charge.*

* R.C.W. § 7.90.055

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back to topCan I file a petition on my own? Do I need a lawyer?

You do not need a lawyer to file a sexual assault protection order – you can file on your own.  However, you may wish to have a lawyer represent you on the case, especially if the offender has a lawyer or if the case is going to go to trial.  If you can, contact a lawyer to make sure that your legal rights are protected.  If you cannot afford a lawyer but want one to help you with your case, you can find information on legal assistance on the WA Finding a Lawyer page.  If the respondent (offender) is represented by a lawyer, the court may appoint a lawyer to represent you as well.* 

Anyone who is 16 or over who has been the victim of nonconsensual sexual conduct or penetration (and who does not qualify for a domestic violence order for protection) can file.  If you are under the age of 16, an adult can file on your behalf.**  An adult can also file on behalf of a victim who is considered to be a vulnerable adult (someone who is disabled/incapacitated) or on behalf of any adult who cannot file because of his/her age, disability, health or inaccessibility to the courthouse.***

Note: The judge may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent a minor for the court case if the judge thinks it is necessary.**** 

* R.C.W. § 7.90.070
** R.C.W. § 7.90.030(1)(b)(i)
*** R.C.W. § 7.90.030(1)(b)(ii),(iii)
**** R.C.W. § § 7.90.040(4)

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back to topCan a minor file for a sexual assault protection order?

Only a minor who is 16 or over and has been the victim of nonconsensual sexual conduct or penetration (and does not qualify for a domestic violence protection order) can file for a sexual assault protection order.  Anyone who is 16 years old or older does not need to have a guardian or a guardian ad litem to file for the protection order.  However, the judge may appoint a guardian ad litem (at no cost) to represent the minor if the judge thinks it is necessary.*

* R.C.W. § 7.90.040(2)-(4)

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back to topCan a sexual assault advocate come to court with me?

Yes.  You can have a sexual assault advocate come to court with you and talk to you in court, unless the judge says otherwise.  The advocate can also help you prepare the petition.*

* R.C.W. § 7.90.060

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back to topWhat are the steps involved with obtaining a sexual assault protection order?

The steps for getting a sexual assault protection order are similar to the steps involved with obtaining a domestic violence order for protection.  See our What are the steps for getting a domestic violence order of protection? page for more information.  The forms will be slightly different, so be sure to ask the clerk for the paperwork to file for a sexual assault protection order.

A person may file on behalf of a minor child or vulnerable adult who has been the victim of nonconsensual conduct or penetration.  Victims who are 16 and over can file on their own (don't need parent or guardian).*

* R.C.W. §§ 7.90.030(b)(ii),(iii), 7.90.040(1)-(3)

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