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The information contained here is intended to address the most frequently asked questions. It is not comprehensive and should not be construed as legal advice. Those in need of legal advice should consult an attorney. The domestic violence laws can be found through the Office of the Administrator of the Courts web site, click here for this external site.
What is "unlawful harassment?"
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.
What is a "course of conduct?"
- A series of acts
- Over a period of time (however short)
- With an on-going purpose
How does the court determine if the acts are "legitimate or lawful?"
The Court considers the following:
- Is the respondent (the person who is harassing you) contacting you or are you contacting each other?
- Has the respondent been clearly told that you do not want any further contact?
- Is the respondent’s behavior alarming, annoying, or harassing you?
- Are the respondent’s actions interfering with your privacy or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive living environment for you?
- Has the respondent’s contact with you been previously limited by a court order?
What is an order for antiharassment?
An antiharassment order is a special type of restraining order which is available only to victims of harassment. It is a civil order of the court telling the person who harassed you not to bother you again.
The police are notified of your antiharassment order. The order is fully enforceable in any county in the State.
An antiharassment order can:
- 1. Restrain the respondent from contacting you;
2. Restrain the respondent from keeping you under surveillance;
3. Require the respondent to stay a stated distance away from your home or workplace.
Do I need a lawyer to get an order for antiharassment?
No. The law has been designed so you can get an order for antiharassment without a lawyer by filling out the forms yourself. Because you are seeking an order of the court without the help of an attorney, you will have the paperwork and legwork to do. It is not unusual for this to take several hours.
How do I obtain an order for antiharassment?
You can get the forms free at any division of the King County District Court or you can download the forms and bring them to a court division. You need to fill out the forms as completely as possible giving the court written information about what has happened and why you need the court order. The clerk is not allowed to give legal advice; if you feel you need it, please contact an attorney.
After you have completed your forms, you then will show them to the clerk who will explain how to file them.
A hearing date will be set before a judge. This hearing will be within two weeks.
The respondent must be served with the papers you have filed and with the notice of the hearing. Service is very important and must occur before you can get your one-year antiharassment order. The court can order law enforcement to serve the respondent with these papers.
At the antiharassment order hearing, the court will decide whether to sign your order and may make some changes. The order for antiharassment will generally last for a maximum of one year or maybe longer if necessary.
If you are in immediate danger, you may obtain a "temporary order for antiharassment" prior to your full hearing in two weeks. Ask for and fill out the forms for a temporary antiharassment order.
You will see the judge or court commissioner the same day you file your papers and may need to explain why you need immediate protection, if you have filed the paperwork at a reasonable time. You should not expect to see a judge if you wait until the end of the day to file your paperwork. You must show reasonable proof of unlawful harassment by the respondent and that great or irreparable harm will be the result if the temporary antiharassment protection order is not granted. The judge can grant you a temporary order which will be served on the respondent, along with the notice of the hearing for the one year antiharassment order.
The temporary order will expire on the date of the hearing for the one year antiharassment order. You must attend the full hearing to extend your temporary order for antiharassment.
How much will it cost?
The filing fee is $93.00. The courts will charge an additional $10.00 fee for copies and certification charges. There may also be a charge for having copies delivered (served on) the respondent. If you cannot afford the fees, the court may allow you to go ahead without paying. Ask for and complete the form requesting fee waiver.
What if I have previously filed for an antiharassment order against the respondent?
You may not obtain a temporary order for antiharassment if you have already had two temporary orders against the respondent and not obtained the one-year order, unless you can show the Court good cause for failing to get the one-year order.
If you need to renew your one-year order, you may reapply by filing a new petition within three months before the expiration of your order.
What happens if the order is violated?
Any willful disobedience of the antiharassment order by the respondent shall subject the respondent to criminal penalties and the respondent may also be found in contempt of court.
For a complete list of Anti-Harassment forms click here (external link)