Washington State law allows for a person to file a civil case in court, asking a judge to grant an order to protect them from another person whose behavior is abusive, threatening, exploitive or seriously alarming. The primary purpose is to order the other person or “respondent” to not contact or harm you, the “petitioner.”
There are four types of protections orders, intended for specific situations. State law establishes who can seek them, who they can protect, who they can restrain, the types of protections and relief they offer, when and where court hearings are conducted, what costs may be incurred, etc.. The four types of protection orders are: Anti-Harassment Protection orders, Domestic Violence Protection Orders, Sexual Assault Protection Orders and Vulnerable Adult Protection Orders. The law allows district courts to handle the first three protection order types. For Vulnerable Adult Protection orders, you must contact King County Superior Court.
Petitioners (the person filing the case) choose which type of protection order is most appropriate for them to pursue. However, protection orders do not cover everyone’s needs; there may be other legal remedies that are appropriate.
Many people come to the court after an incident where a police officer advised them to go to court to get a “no contact” or “restraining” order. No contact and restraining orders can also order a person not to contact or harm someone, but they are not protection orders and are used in different situations.
No-contact orders are requested by the prosecuting attorney in a criminal case to protect the victim or witness of the crime. For information about obtaining or terminating a criminal “no-contact” order, contact the King County Prosecuting Attorney: www.kingcounty.gov/Prosecutor.aspx
Restraining orders are requested by the parties as part of an existing domestic case such as a divorce or a case to determine paternity, custody, child support or visitation. To read about restraining orders, visit: www.washingtonlawhelp.org/WA and www.kcll.org.
An overview of each of the orders described above is available here.