Civil anti-harassment proceedings
It has been the experience of the Skagit County District Court staff 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 and difficulty.� We request that you read this brochure completely prior to completing the packet of materials that will be provided by the court clerk.
Part of the confusion for a victim is that there are three ways to get help, but each of the alternatives may be only available depending on the facts of the incident(s) and the relationship of the alleged violator to the victim.� The first alternative is a domestic violence no contact order issued by a judge as a part of a domestic violence criminal proceeding.� If you are a victim of a domestic violence crime (assault, threats, malicious mischief, etc.) you first should 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 proceeding.� The second alternative is a domestic violence protection order, which is available even though a crime is not charged.� This is the required alternative when the alleged violator is a spouse, former spouse, an adult person related by blood or marriage, persons residing together, persons 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.� The third alternative is a civil anti--harassment protection order.� This alternative is only available when the incident or incidents are not domestic violence acts.� Unlawful harassment is a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person which seriously alarms, annoys or harasses such person, and which serves no legitimate lawful purpose.� In order to be eligible for such a protection order there must be repeated invasions of a person�s privacy by acts and words showing a continuous pattern of harassment.� Isolated single acts of harassment will not qualify a person for an anti-harassment protection order.
WHERE DO YOU
GO TO OBTAIN THIS HELP?
If you are the victim of a domestic violence crime, immediately call for help from law enforcement.� Whichever agency investigates should be requested to inform the judge that a no contact order is required as a part of the crime that is charged.� As a further follow-up, contact the appropriate court as soon as possible and request through the clerk�s office or the Prosecutor that you wish that a no contact order be issued as a part of the preliminary appearance of arraignment process.� If a domestic violence protection order is the appropriate alternative, in Skagit County you make application with the Superior Court Clerk, who is located on the first floor of the Skagit County Courthouse.� A civil anti-harassment protection order is obtained at the Skagit County District Court at the Larry E. Moller Building, 600 S. 3rd, in Mt. Vernon.�
HOW DO YOU APPLY FOR AN ANTI-HARASSMENT PROTECTION ORDER?
The Skagit County District Court clerk will provide to you a set of materials, which include a petition and declaration, and law enforcement information sheet.� Once the applicant has completed the materials the clerk will schedule your case before a Judge to determine if an anti-harassment order is appropriate.� If the Judge approves the petition, a temporary protection order is signed and a hearing is set within 14 days.� A copy of the temporary order and notice of hearing is then served on the respondent by the Sheriff, or the City Police Department, depending on the location that the respondent resides.� At the hearing a Judge will hear testimony of the parties and any witnesses of the alleged harassment.� The judge will then decide if the protection order should be made permanent, and if so, what conditions the order should contain.� The permanent order can be effective for up to one year or longer in certain circumstances.��
ARE THERE RESTICTIONS ON WHERE YOU CAN FILE?
The statute requires that the action may be brought in the county where the alleged acts of unlawful harassment occurred or where the respondent resides at the time the petition is filed.� By agreement between the Skagit County District and Superior Courts, the District Court hears all anti-harassment cases and the Superior Court hears all domestic violence petitions.
IS THERE A FEE TO FILE AN ANTI-HARASMENT PETITION?
The fee for an anti-harassment action is $83.�� Once the fee is paid it will not be refunded even though the judge declines approval of the order.� In addition the petitioner is required to pay the fees for service of the documents on the respondent.� The petitioner is entitled to recover those costs at the hearing if the court so orders.� If the court at the time of filing determines that a petitioner lacks the funds to pay the costs of filing the court may waive the fee and require no fees for service of the documents on the respondent.� If fees have been waived the court may require the respondent to reimburse the county for such costs if a permanent order is entered.�� However, the Judge may also order the Petitioner to make arrangements for time payments for the filing fee.
HOW DOES THE COURT DECIDE IF THERE IS HARASSMENT?
The judge, when reviewing the petition and declaration, must determine whether the alleged course of conduct serves any legitimate or lawful purpose.� The judge considers whether: any current contact between the parties was initiated by the respondent only or was initiated by both parties; the respondent has been given clear notice that all further contact with petition is unwanted; the respondent�s course of conduct appears designed to alarm, annoy, or harass the petitioner; the respondent is or is not acting according to any lawful authority; the respondent�s 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 finally whether any contact by the respondent with the petitioner or the petitioner�s family has been limited in any manner by any previous court order.
WHAT KIND OF PROTECTION CAN THE ORDER PROVIDE?
In granting either a temporary or permanent order the court has broad discretion to grant such relief as the court deems proper, including an order: restraining the respondent from making any attempts to contact the petitioner; restraining the respondent from making any attempts to keep the petitioner under surveillance; and requiring the respondent to stay a stated distance from the petitioner�s residence and work place.� Once entered the order is forwarded to the appropriate law enforcement agency no later than the next judicial day
WHAT IF THE ORDER IS VIOLATED?
The willful disobedience of an anti-harassment protection order, that the respondent has knowledge of, subjects the respondent to a possible conviction of a gross misdemeanor which has a maximum punishment of one year in jail and up to $5000 in fines.� In addition the respondent may be found, in the court�s discretion of contempt of court and subject to penalties of RCW 7.21
IF YOU ARE UNSURE WHETHER YOU QUALIFY FOR AN ANTI-HARASSMENT ORDER PLEASE ASK THE COURT CLERK FOR ASSISTANCE PRIOR TO FILING THE PETITION.