Protection Orders Overview

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Nature of Proceeding

This is a civil as opposed to criminal proceeding.

Who may obtain a Protection Order

Any person who fears violence from a "family or household member", ( as defined in RCW 26.50.110) or who has been the victim of physical harm or fears imminent physical harm, or stalking from a "family or household member" may seek a protection order. Minors under the age of 16 may petition the court for a protection order with the assistance of a parent or guardian.

Jurisdiction

District, Municipal, or Superior Court have jurisdiction to hear Petitions for a Protection Order. A Domestic violence Protection Order is limited to Superior Court if Superior Court has a family law action pending, or if the case involves children or an order to vacate a home.

Notice

Notice must be personally served on the respondent. Notice by certified mail, or publication is authorized in limited circumstances.

Consequences of Order

Violation of the Domestic Violence Protection Order will subject the respondent to arrest and potential criminal charges. If the violation of the restraining order consists of assault or reckless endangerment, it is a Class C felony. Otherwise, violation of a Domestic Violence Restraining 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 Domestic Violence Protection Order for another year prior to its expiration.