Petitioning for a Restraining Order

Stopping abuse or the threat of abuse can feel like an impossible task. No matter how frustrated, angry, or upset you become, sometimes abusers will not listen and can become a violent threat to your life. That is why the state of Washington has a robust arrangement of laws that address how to recognize, stop and prevent abuse from happening again. 

One of the most common methods for stopping abuse is by filing a restraining order. Restraining orders, otherwise referred to as orders of protection, require an individual (respondent) to stop behaving in an abusive manner towards another person (petitioner). A judge may also add other restrictions to the order if they think it’s necessary.

In some particularly severe instances, a judge may rule that an individual cannot remain in possession of weapons. If you are in need of a protection order, we recommend you hire an experienced and skilled attorney to assist you.

Attorney for Petitioning for A Restraining Order in Seattle, WA

At [firm], your safety is our priority. In our years of practicing family law, we have seen and interacted with countless people who have sought protection and relief from the court. Many of our clients come to us uncertain of their situation and doubtful that they have a case.

Our seasoned attorneys have devoted their lives and careers to providing people and their families with legal guidance and support.

When a person refuses to stop abusing or harassing you, you don’t have to be alone in fighting back. The lawyers at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson take great pride in providing not only quality legal service but hope, to our clients and their families. From start to finish, inside and outside of court, our legal team will advocate for you and for your future.

If you are considering filing a petition or have already filed for a restraining order, contact us today at (206) 712-2756 to schedule your first consultation and strategy session.

Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson serves clients in the Seattle metropolitan area including Seattle, Bellevue, Tacoma, Everett, and many other cities in the surrounding area.

Overview of Restraining Order Laws in Washington

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Can I Get a Restraining Order?

Restraining Orders are issued when the petitioner has been harassed or abused by an individual or has been reasonably made to feel intimidated or fearful that they will be harassed or abused. Any person that fits that standard has a valid reason to file a petition for a restraining order in the state of Washington.

You should prepare before going to file a request for a restraining order, gathering all information available regarding the offending behavior There are several different kinds of restraining orders that exist in the state of Washington Depending on your circumstances, one kind of restraining order may be better than another.

For example, if your ex-partner is harassing you online, what would be the best course of action? While technically a matter of domestic abuse, it may not be considered a problem worth issuing a domestic violence protection order (DVOP), as compared with a situation that involves violence or the threat of violence. It would be a better decision in this instance to file a civil anti-harassment or stalking protection order.

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What Kind of Restraining Orders Are There?

There are varying types of restraining orders in the state of Washington. In order to best address the unique circumstances of each case, the state has implemented a system of protection orders with different rules and restrictions. Listed below are the restraining orders permitted by Washington state law:

  • Domestic Violence Protection Order
  • Stalking Protection Order
  • Civil Anti-Harassment Order
  • Sexual Assault Protection Order
  • Vulnerable Adult Protection Order
  • Extreme Risk Protection Order *

*You can apply for both another restraining order and an Extreme Risk Protection Order if the level of danger is perceived by the judge to warrant such an action. If a formal hearing regarding an extreme risk petition results in its acceptance, the respondent will be required to follow its stipulations for no shorter than 12 months.

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How Do I Get A Restraining Order?

The process for obtaining a restraining order requires filling out paperwork at the courthouse, submitting the paperwork to a clerk, and going before a family law judge. If you are seeking immediate protection, an Ex Parte hearing(this means a hearing where only one of the parties is present) can be held on the same day as you filed the petition. If the judge grants a temporary order, it will remain in effect until the formal hearing is completed.

In both Ex Parte and formal hearings, the evidence must be presented to a judge to justify the necessity of a restraining order. At that time, both the petitioner and the respondent will make arguments to the judge.

Because these hearings can require a lot of legal knowledge to successfully navigate, it is highly recommended that you consult a qualified Seattle family law attorney before attending.

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Can I Modify A Restraining Order?

As per RCW 26.50.130, both the petitioner and respondent can request a restraining order be modified or terminated. When a respondent files a request to have a protection order altered or canceled, they have a legal obligation to prove that the situation has changed significantly. The terms of the order are designed to protect the petitioner from harmful behavior, so the respondent must prove that they are not likely to behave in such a manner again.

The requirements for a petitioner are much less demanding. The protection order was issued on the petitioner’s behalf, so requests they have regarding its status are usually considered reasonable by the court.

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What Happens If the Restraining Order Is Violated?

Respondents are required by law to follow the instructions placed in the protection order. Any action that is seen to violate the rules of the order can be considered a criminal act. Depending on the severity of the violation, the punishments vary from misdemeanors to felonies. All violations of protection orders can be prosecuted as contempt of court as well.

A non-violent violation will usually result in a ‘gross misdemeanor,’ but the actual charges could be different if the respondent has a criminal history. According to RCW 26.50.110, violating a protection order by committing an assault (no more severe than in the 3rd degree) or by acting in a reckless manner so as to create the risk of death or serious injury is punishable as a Class C Felony. If you violate a protection order nonviolently, but after having previously violated two or more protection orders, you can be charged with a Class C Felony.

Additional Resources

RAINN Washington State Laws– This link provides detailed information about sexual assault and abuse laws in Washington state. RAINN is an organization dedicated to providing information and assistance to victims of abuse and harassment. – This is a link to a website that compiles information about protection orders in Washington. Operated by the office of the King County Prosecuting Attorney, the website functions as a collection of information and guidance for individuals seeking to learn more about protection orders and how to file them.

Attorney for Petitioning for a Restraining Order in King County, WA

It may not seem true, but if you are suffering from abuse or harassment, you can get relief. The state of Washington has many rules in place to safeguard the fearful and the vulnerable, and teams of devoted family law attorneys like the ones at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson are eager to assist you in obtaining safety.

Our seasoned attorneys have the knowledge, drive, and experience required to provide you with the kind of service you and your family need. Contact us today at (206) 712-2756 to schedule your first consultation. 

The Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson serves clients in King County, Pierce County, Snohomish County, Kitsap County, and many more in the surrounding area.

This article was last updated on Tuesday, March 16, 2021.

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