Can 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.1
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.2 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.3
Note: The judge may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent a minor for the court case if the judge thinks it is necessary.4
1 R.C.W. § 7.90.070
2 R.C.W. § 7.90.030(1)(b)(i)
3 R.C.W. § 7.90.030(1)(b)(ii),(iii)
4 R.C.W. § § 7.90.040(4)
If you are going to be in court without a lawyer, our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section may be useful to you.