Anti-Harassment Orders Overview

Back to Family Law

Nature of Proceeding

This is a civil as opposed to a criminal proceeding that is controlled by RCW 10.14.

Who May Obtain a Anti-Harassment Protection Order

A person who has been "seriously alarmed, annoyed or harassed by conduct of another person which serves no legitimate or lawful purpose" may seek an anti-harassment protection order. Parties generally are not married, have not lived together, and have no children in common. An Anti-Harassment Protection Order is a special type of restraining order which is available only to victims of harassment. It is a civil order of the court telling the person who harassed you not to bother you again.

The police are notified of your Anti-Harassment Protection Order and the Order is fully enforceable in any county in the State.

Jurisdiction

Jurisdiction for anti-harassment orders is in District Court. There are limited provisions for referring cases to Superior Court. For example, District Court must transfer the proceedings to Superior Court when the respondent is under 18 years of age.

Notice

Notice must be served on respondent.

Consequences of Order

Violation of the anti-harassment protection order will subject the respondent to arrest and potential criminal charges. The respondent may also be found in contempt of court for knowingly violating the order. Violation of an anti-harassment protection order is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.

Maximum Duration of Order

The duration of a protection order is in the discretion of the court. Ordinarily, the duration of a protection order is one year. The court does have the authority to enter a permanent protection order. A petitioner can ask the court to extend the Anti-Harassment Order for another year prior to its expiration.