Anti-Harassment Order Laws

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The Washington State Legislature has created laws to protect people who are being harassed by someone else.  These laws are written in a “Harassment” statute.

If you believe someone is harassing you in Washington State then you can go to district or superior court and file a “petition” under oath stating why you believe the court should issue an anti-harassment order.  There are standard forms that can assist in this process and are on the Washington Courts website.  You may also want to consider hiring a private attorney to help in this process.  Because this is a “civil” procedure, the court does not provide “free attorneys” or “public defenders”.

Temporary Antiharassment Orders

The court will first determine if a temporary anti-harassment order will be granted.  Under the law, to grant an order the court must find that there was reasonable proof of unlawful harassment of the petitioner and that there will be either great or irreparable harm if the temporary order is not granted.

The term “unlawful harassment” has been defined by the Washington State Legislature as “ a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person which seriously alarms, annoys, harasses, or is detrimental to such person, and which serves no legitimate or lawful purpose. The course of conduct shall be such as would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, and shall actually cause substantial emotional distress to the petitioner, or, when the course of conduct would cause a reasonable parent to fear for the well-being of their child.”

The legislature has defined “course of conduct” to mean “a pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of purpose. "Course of conduct" includes, in addition to any other form of communication, contact, or conduct, the sending of an electronic communication, but does not include constitutionally protected free speech. Constitutionally protected activity is not included within the meaning of "course of conduct.”

Permanent Antiharassment Orders

If the court grants the temporary order it will also set a date for a full hearing within the next fourteen days.  These are court hearings that can become relatively complex.  While it can be done without a lawyer, one or both of the parties may choose to have a lawyer to help at the hearing.  At this hearing, the court will listen to what each party (the “petitioner” and “respondent”) has to say.  The court may also consider testimony from witnesses, digital recordings, video evidence, emails, and any other evidence that is admitted.  One thing that is different about these hearings compared to a judge or jury trial is that the rules of evidence do not apply.

After any evidence is admitted, the court may hear closing arguments.  The court then decides whether the petitioner has proven by a preponderance of the evidence whether unlawful harassment exists, and if it does, the court will issue a civil anti-harassment protection order.  The order will not be for more than one year unless the court finds that the harassment is going to begin at the end of the year.

Costs and Attorney Fees

Under the law, the court may require the respondent to pay the filing fee, court costs, and attorney fees. Surprisingly, nothing in the statute requires the petitioner to reimburse the respondent for any fees.

Further information about anti-harassment orders can be found in Washington State publications such as Guideline for Domestic Violence Protection and Antiharassment Orders.

Need Anti-Harassment Help?

Give Us A Call: 206-467-3190

We will not try to "hard sell" you.

Finally, we will not try to “hard sell” you to hire us. We know choosing an attorney is a big decision and one you must make carefully – not under pressure. Because an effective attorney-client relationship requires a lot of communication and trust, we really only want to represent people who feel comfortable with us and have complete confidence in our abilities. If you don't, then you have the right to an attorney that you do feel would be a better fit.

Thank you for taking the time to look through this web site. Please contact us if you would like to meet and further discuss how we may assist you.

Contact Us Today

Burg & Lantz is committed to answering your questions about protection order law in Washington.

Contact us today at 206-467-3190 to schedule an appointment.