Harassment Protection Orders
Harassment, or anti-harassment, protection orders are sought by persons who believe that someone is engaging in unlawful harassment against them. Harassment is defined as:
A knowing and willful "course of conduct" directed at you which seriously: alarms you; annoys you; or harasses you; and serves no "legitimate or lawful" purpose; would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, and actually causes substantial emotional distress to you.
Harassment protection orders are commonly sought in cases where there is no family, dating, living or other relationship like we would normally see in domestic violence situations. We commonly see harassment protection orders sought between co-workers, neighbors, and others similarly situated.
An initial temporary harassment order can be sought on what is called an "ex-parte" basis, where the party seeking the order presents a petition and proposed temporary order to a district court judge without the respondent being present or notified. If the petition alleges sufficient facts to warrant it, a judge can issue a temporary order of protection pending a full hearing. At the full hearing the petitioner and respondent can both present their testimony and evidence, and in some instances can cross examine the testimony presented by their opponent. The full hearing is usually scheduled approximately two weeks from the date the temporary order was issued.
Most harassment protection orders are issued for an initial period of one year, and can be renewed by the petitioner each year. The burden for renewing a protection order is substantially less than the burden for initially getting one. We have fought against renewal in several case, and have been able to win and have the orders dismissed.
It is important to immediately contact a qualified lawyer if you are given notice regarding one of these actions. This is because time is of the essence in your protection order case, and often a person is only served with legal papers a few days prior to the full hearing on the merits. The last things anyone should do is appear in court without an attorney and expect to prevail, especially someone who is a respondent. The deck is significantly stacked against those who are fighting to keep a protection order off their record. Our office wins most of the protection orders we are hired to fight, but every case is different.
Many of the statutes and rules governing these orders can be found in Chapter 10.14 of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW), although state and local court rules should also be reviewed in preparation for hearings in these types of cases.
When you are facing a harassment protection order we can help. Call us at (253) 867-2675 to schedule a free initial consultation with the attorneys at Newton & Hall. Our office is located near the King County Courthouse in Kent, and we handle these matters in King and Pierce counties on a regular basis. We also handle other counties like Snohomish, Thurston and Kitsap, but are less often in those courts for protection order cases.
To see information about the criminal consequences of protection order violations click here.