THERE ARE THREE DIFFERENT ALTERNATIVES
AVAILABLE FOR PROTECTION
If you believe someone is harassing
you, there are three possible ways to get help, but each method
depends on the facts of the harassment and your relationship,
if any, to the person you believe is harassing you.
1. - Order For Protection From
Harassment: This is available only when the incident
or incidents are not domestic violence acts. Unlawful harassment
is a knowing and wilful course of conduct directed at a
specific person which seriously alarms, annoys or harasses
such person, and which serves no legitimate or lawful purpose.
In order to be eligible for a protection order there must
be repeated invasions of a person's privacy by acts and
works showing a continuous pattern of harassment. Isolated
or single acts of harassment will not qualify a person for
an anti-harassment protection order.
2.- Domestic Violence Protection
Order: This form of protection is available to victims
of domestic violence, whether or not someone was charged
with a crime. If the person harassing you has committed
an act of domestic violence, such as assault, threats of
future harm, property destruction or other offenses, and
that person is a spouse, former spouse, an adult person
related by blood or marriage, persons residing together,
person with a prior dating relationship, persons who have
a biological or legal parent-child relationship, and persons
who have a child in common, whether or not they have been
married or lived together, you must use this alternative.
The courthouse facilitator at the Superior Court Clerk's
Office can help you to make this determination
3. - No Contact Order in Criminal
Case: This type of protection is ordered by a judge
as a part of a criminal case involving domestic violence,
and also depends on your relationship to the person charged
with the domestic violence crime. If you are a victim of
a domestic violence crime (assault, threats of future harm,
property damage or destruction, or other domestic violence
crimes) you may request assistance of law enforcement and
have the crime charged and a no contact order entered by
the judge as a part of the criminal case.
WHERE DO YOU GO TO OBTAIN HELP?
1.- An order for protection from harassment
is obtained by applying at the District Court office. In Grays
Harbor County, the District Court has two locations. Contact
the office nearest you:
County Courthouse, Room 202A
102 W. Broadway
Montesano, WA 98563
Tel. (360) 249-3441 Fax (360) 249-6382
Pearsall Building,Room 201
2109 Sumner Ave.
Aberdeen, WA 98520
Tel. (360) 532-7061
Fax (360) 532-7704
2. If a domestic violence protection
order is the appropriate alternative, you should apply at
the Superior Court Clerk's Office, 2nd floor, Grays Harbor
County Courthouse, Montesano (Tel. 249-3842).
3. If you are the victim of a domestic
violence crime, seek help from your local law enforcement
agency. The law enforcement agency (city police or county
sheriff) who investigates the crime should be requested
to inform the judge that a no contact order should be entered.
You may also contact the court where the charge is filed
to request that the prosecuting attorney convey your request
to the judge to have a no contact order entered as a part
of the preliminary appearance or arraignment process.
HOW DO YOU APPLY FOR AN ORDER FOR
PROTECTION FROM HARASSMENT?
The District Court Clerk will provide
to you a set of forms and instructions for completing them.
The forms include a petition, declaration, and law enforcement
information sheet. Once the forms have been completed by the
applicant (Petitioner), the judge will review them and determine
if a temporary protection order is appropriate. The judge
may issue a temporary protection order or a notice of hearing,
and a hearing will be set within 14 days. A copy of the temporary
order or notice of hearing is then served on the Respondent
by the appropriate law enforcement agency. At the hearing
the judge will listen to the Petitioner's testimony, the Respondent's
testimony (if the Respondent appears) and the testimony of
any witnesses to the alleged harassment. The judge will then
decide whether to grant the petition and issue an order for
protection from harassment. If an order is issued, the judge
will also decide what protective provisions it should contain.
The protection order can be made effective for one year or
more, depending on the circumstances.
ARE THERE RESTRICTIONS ON WHERE
YOU CAN FILE?
A petition may be filed in the county
where at least some acts of unlawful harassment occurred or
where the Respondent lives. All proceedings for civil anti-harassment
protection orders are heard in District Court. Domestic violence
protection order cases are heard in Superior Court. Both District
Court and Superior Court have the authority to issue no contact
orders in domestic violence criminal cases.
WHAT IS THE COST TO FILE FOR A PROTECTION
The filing fee for a harassment protection
order case is $73, cash only, paid when the initial petition is filed.
Once the fee is paid it cannot be refunded even though the
judge may deny your petition or decline to issue any protection
order. The petitioner is required to pay the fees for service
of the documents on the Respondent. The petitioner is entitled
to recover these costs at the hearing if the court so orders.
If you lack the funds to pay the filing fee and service fee,
the court may allow you to proceed without the payment of
these fees. The clerk will provide you with a form to fill
out to request that these fees be waived. If the fees have
been waived the court may require the Respondent to reimburse
the county for such costs if an order for protection is granted.
WHAT WILL THE JUDGE CONSIDER IN
MAKING THE DECISION OF WHETHER TO ISSUE A PROTECTION ORDER?
If requested, the judge will review
the petition and declaration to determine whether a temporary
protection order should be issued immediately. This is based
on whether any irreparable injury or harm is likely to occur.
Other factors considered by Court include whether the alleged
course of conduct serves any legitimate or lawful purpose,
any current contact between the parties was initiated by one
or both parties, clear notice was given that contact was unwanted,
the conduct appears designed to alarm, annoy, or harass the
petitioner, the respondent is not acting according to any
lawful authority, the course of conduct has the purpose of
unreasonably interfering with the petitioner's privacy or
the purpose of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive
living environment for the petitioner, and whether and contact
has been limited in any manner by any previous court order.
The petitioner must also have suffered substantial emotional
distress as a result of the respondent's conduct. The judge
will consider all of the evidence and the above factors to
decide whether or not to issue a protection order for one
year or more.
WHAT KIND OF PROTECTION CAN THE
In granting either a temporary order
or permanent protection order the court has broad discretion.
The typical order will prohibit the Respondent from making
any attempts to contact the Petitioner, in person, in writing,
by telephone and through another person; from attempting to
keep the Petitioner under surveillance; and from going within
a stated distance from the Petitioner's residence and work
place. Upon request of a parent or guardian of a child under
18, the court may restrain a person over 18 from contacting
that child if the course of conduct would cause a reasonable
parent to fear for the well-being of their child. The provisions
of each order depend upon the particular circumstances of
each case. If the court issues a temporary or permanent protection
order, it is forwarded on or before the next judicial day
to the appropriate law enforcement agency for personal service
upon the Respondent.
WHAT IF THE ORDER IS VIOLATED?
The willful disobedience of a harassment
protection order by a Respondent who has knowledge of its
terms is a crime, with a maximum penalty of one year in jail
and/or a $5,000 fine. Willful disobedience of a protection
order is also subject to contempt of court proceedings (Chapter
We request that you read this information
completely before completing the packet of materials that
will be provided by the Court Clerk. Our experience with this
type of case indicates that there is a lot of confusion and
misunderstanding about when it is appropriate to apply for
a civil anti-harassment protection order. We want to make
sure that you get the right help with a minimum of referrals