Types of Protection Orders

There are different types of protection orders that apply to different people and different scenarios. The primary purpose of most court orders is to keep the "respondent" or “defendant” from contacting or harming the "petitioner” or “victim/witness.” Violation of these orders could result in criminal prosecution. If you or someone you know is feeling threatened, It’s important to understand which protection order may be right for you.

Some orders are civil orders, meaning you can petition the court for the order on your own. Some orders are criminal orders, meaning WA State (through a prosecutor) requests them in criminal cases. Some orders can have both civil and criminal functions.

    Civil Orders

    Orders that you can file directly against another person

    Domestic Violence Protection Order

    May be filed by someone who is experiencing physical harm, bodily injury, assault, stalking, sexual assault OR who fears imminent physical harm or bodily injury by a family or household member.

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    Domestic Violence Protection Order (RCW 26.50)

    Family or household members include:

    • Spouses/former spouses
    • Persons who have children in common
    • Persons who are dating or previously dated
    • Adult persons related by blood or marriage
    • Adult persons residing together or who have resided together in the past
    • Persons 16 years of age or older residing together and who have had a dating relationship
    • Persons 13 years of age or older and who have had a dating relationship with someone 16 years of age or older
    • Persons who have a biological or legal parent child relationship, including stepparents and grandparents

    A DVPO can be in place on a temporary basis, for one year or permanent. Firearm prohibitions may apply to people restrained by this type of order.

    Learn more at: dvprotectionorder.org
  • Stalking Protection Order

    May be filed by someone who is experiencing stalking conduct by someone who is NOT a family or household member.

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    Stalking Protection Order (RCW 7.92)

    Stalking conduct may include a person intentionally and repeatedly harassing or following another person and the person who is being harassed or followed is placed in fear for themselves or their property. Stalking conduct also includes behaviors defined in RCW 9A.46.110 and cyberstalking as defined in RCW 9.61.260.

    A SPO can be in place on a temporary basis, for one year or permanent. Firearms prohibitions may apply to people restrained by this type of order.

    Learn more at: stalkingpo.org
  • Anti-harrassment Protection Order

    May be filed against someone who has engaged in a willful course of conduct that is unlawful or harassing and that seriously alarms, annoys or causes emotional distress and that serves no lawful purpose.

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    Antiharassment Protection Order (RCW 10.14)

    An AHO can be in place on a temporary basis, one year or permanent. Firearms prohibitions may apply to people restrained by this type of order.

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  • Sexual Assault Protection Order

    May be filed by someone who is experiencing nonconsensual sexual conduct or nonconsensual sexual penetration by someone who is NOT a family or household member. A single incident is sufficient to pursue a SAPO.

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    Sexual Assault Protection Order (RCW 7.90)

    AA SAPO can be in place on a temporary basis, for one year or permanent. Firearms prohibitions may apply to people restrained by this type of order.

    Learn more at: WCSAP.org In King County: KCSARC.org
  • Vulnerable Adult Protection Order

    May be filed by a vulnerable adult, a guardian or “interested third party” against someone is accused of abandonment, abuse, financial exploitation or neglect or against someone who threatens to commit abandonment, abuse, financial exploitation or neglect.

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    Vulnerable Adult Protection Order (RCW 74.34)

    “Vulnerable Adults” are people who are 60 yrs. or older who are unable to care for themselves; or adults of any age who have developmental disabilities; or adults of any age who live in a facility or receive in-home care.

    VAPOS can:

    • Prohibit all contact with the vulnerable adult and any location where the vulnerable adult lives or spends time (such as an adult day program);
    • Permit contact with the vulnerable adult, but prohibit access to the vulnerable adult’s financial accounts;
    • Require an accounting from the accused abuser/exploiter of what has happened to the vulnerable adult’s income or other resources;
    • Prohibit the transfer of any property belonging to the vulnerable adult.

    A VAPO can be in place on a temporary basis or for up to five years. Firearms prohibitions DO NOT apply to people restrained by this type of order.

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  • Extreme Risk Protection Order

    May be filed by a family or household member or law enforcement against someone they believe poses a significant danger to self or others by having access to, the ability to purchase or receive, or actual possession of a firearm.

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    Extreme Risk Order (RCW 7.94)

    An ERPO can be in place on a temporary basis or for one year. The only relief an ERPO provides is the surrender and prohibition of firearms. It does not include any other protections.

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  • Restraining Order

    May be filed as part of a family law case (e.g. Dissolution/Divorce, legal separation, parenting plan, etc.) but is not something that can be filed as a stand-alone order.

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    Restraining Order (RCW 26.09, 26.10, 26.26)

    A Restraining Order can be in place on a remporary basis or be permanent. Firearms prohibitions my apply to people restrained by this type of order.

Criminal Orders

Orders that prosecutors request for victims and/or witnesses in criminal matters.

No Contact Orders

(RCW 10.99.040, .050)

May be issued in criminal cases involving domestic violence prohibiting a defendant from contacting victims of or witnesses to such a crime. A No Contact Order may be issued despite a victim’s or witness’s objection to it.The order can be in place as long as the case being handled by the court.

Harassment No Contact Orders

(RCW 9A.46.040)

May be issued in criminal cases involving a crime of harassment prohibiting a defendant from contacting victims of or witnesses to such a crime. A No Contact Order may be issued despite a victim’s or witness’s objection to it. The order can be in place as long as the case is being handled by the court.

Court-initiated Stalking Protection Orders

(RCW 7.92.160)

May be issues in criminal cases involving stalking or cyberstalking. The order can be in place as long as the case is being handled by the court.

Court-initiated Sexual Assault Protection Orders

(RCW 7.90.150)

May be issued in criminal cases involving a crime of sexual assault prohibiting a defendant from contacting victims of such a crime. The order can be in place as long as the case is being handled by the court.

Important Things to Know about Civil Protection Orders

  1. The information contained here does not constitute legal advice or substitute for legal advice.
  2. Each order has its own specific paperwork that needs to be filed with the court and jurisdictional rules about where the order should be initiated. Some orders can be filed at any courthouse (Municipal, District or Superior Court) but not all can be filed everywhere.

    It is important to contact your local courthouse or visit their website to find out if the order you wish to file is one that can be filed and heard there. Please ask about any filing deadlines that take place throughout the day, the approximate amount of time it takes to file for the order (and see a Judge) and if there are fees associated or fee waivers available for low income petitioners. You may review and or download any of the forms associated with these orders at the following website: www.courts.wa.gov/forms
  3. If you need an interpreter to access the court and file a court order, please contact the court where you plan to file in advance of filing, if at all possible. Interpreters are available to assist limited English speaking clients but they are assigned to assist when there is advanced notice to the court.

Additional Resources

The following resources apply across WA StateThe following resources apply across Washington State

WSCADV (WA State Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Washington State Courts

For a state-wide court directory, court order forms and instructions, resources, and more.

WCSAP (Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs)

Washington LawHelp

An online guide to free civil legal services for low-income persons and seniors in Washington.

Washington VINE Protective Order (WA VPO)

An automated service that helps keep petitioners and crime victims informed by automatically notifying them when protective orders have been served against a respondent and when they are about to expire.