Types of Protection Orders

A judge can issue a Protection Order restricting someone’s behavior even in the absence of a criminal accusation or charge.  There are three main types of civil protection orders.[1] The most common is the Antiharassment Protection Order (AHPO) because it does not require a particular kind of relationship between the parties.  Sometimes AHPO’s are issued along with Stalking Protection Orders (SPOs).  A similar version is available for people alleging domestic violence.  See below for brief descriptions of each.

To get a Protection Order, a person must first file a Petition detailing the harassing behavior and explaining the harm it is causing.  If the person claims an emergency exits requiring immediate action, the judge can issue a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) ex parte (without notice to the restrained party), which stays in place until both sides can be heard.  If that happens, another hearing will be scheduled within 14 days and the protected party has to notify the restrained party (often through law enforcement services).

The Legislature recently overhauled the Protection Order statutes to make the process more user-friendly for petitioners to access our courts.  This has both benefits and drawbacks.  On one hand, it allows indigent people to navigate the process even without a lawyer and get quick intervention.  On the other hand, the threshold of evidence is low enough that people can easily abuse the system.

Antiharassment Protection Order (AHPO)

To protect against unwanted contact or behavior that causes substantial emotional distress and serves no legitimate or lawful purpose. The contact could be a pattern of behavior that occurs over time, or a single act or threat of violence. The contact must be directed specifically at the protected person and be seriously alarming, annoying, harassing, or detrimental.

Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO)

To protect against domestic violence or threat of violence by an “intimate partner” or a “family or household member.” Domestic violence may include controlling behavior (“coercive control”). Petitioners may seek protection for themselves and for family or household members who are minors or vulnerable adults.

A petitioner who has been sexually assaulted, harassed, or stalked by an intimate partner or a family or household member should, but is not required to, seek a domestic violence protection order, instead of another type of protection order.

Stalking Protection Order (SPO)

To protect against stalking behavior that serves no lawful purpose and has reasonably caused the protected person to feel intimidated, frightened, under duress, significantly disrupted, or threatened. The respondent either knows or should know that their behavior causes those feelings, even if that was not respondent’s intent.

[1] Some more specific versions include Stalking Protection Order (SPO), Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO), Vulnerable Adult Protection Order (VAPO), and various others.

Talk To A Knowledgeable Defense Attorney Before Making Any Decisions

Fury Duarte serves clients in the Seattle area and throughout Washington. We welcome the opportunity to discuss your case, and we encourage you to contact us for a complimentary consultation. You can reach our office in Bellevue by calling 425-643-1606.