An Order for Protection is a civil court order that restrains the person who has been committing acts or threats of violence, harassment, sexual assault, or elder abuse from further acts.
You should call 9 - 1 - 1 if anyone is in immediate danger.
The Thurston County Sheriff's office responds to all domestic violence calls and may order either you or your spouse to leave the home. As a courtesy, a deputy will remain at the residence for 15 minutes while you gather necessary items such as identification, medications, toiletries, and personal clothing.
Domestic Violence Assistance
For assistance with protection orders, please email ClerksPO@co.thurston.wa.us.
What types of protection orders are there?
|Domestic Violence Protection Orders||For the protection of family members and others who have a household relationship with the abuser and have experienced acts of violence or stalking or who are fearful that acts of violence will occur.|
|Sexual Assault Protection Orders||For the protection of victims of nonconsensual sexual conduct who do not have a household relationship with the abuser.|
|Anti-Harassment or Stalking
|For the protection of victims of harassment or stalking.|
|Vulnerable Adult/Elderly Protection Orders||For the protection of adults 60 years and older or other adults who meet certain conditions.|
What does a Protection Order do?
Depending on the type of protection order you seek, an Order for Protection can:
- Restrain the abuser from committing acts of violence or abuse.
- Prohibit the abuser from coming within a specified distance of a residence, work place, day care or school.
- Prohibit the abuser from harassment, stalking and/or personal contact of any kind (on the street, by mail, telephone, at school, at work, etc.).
- Direct the abuser to vacate your shared residence and restore it to you.
- Provide other restraints or conditions as ordered by the court.
Domestic Violence Protection Orders can also:
- Award temporary custody to one parent; establish temporary visitation; and restrain one parent from interfering with custody.
- Order one or both parties to participate in treatment or counseling.
- Prohibit the removal of the children from the state of Washington.
- Award temporary usage of a shared vehicle or the possession of essential personal effects.
A protection order CANNOT:
- Order child support, maintenance income or assign property to either party.
- Establish permanent child custody or permanent use of the family home.
How do I get a Protection Order?
If you are asking for a protection order to be issued by the Family and Juvenile Court and wish to be seen by the court on the day the request is made, please arrive between 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. to complete the appropriate protection order paperwork, for the 1:15 p.m. court hearings. If you are unable to complete your paperwork in time, you may take the paperwork with you and return the next day.
If you feel it is unsafe to leave the courthouse without a protection order, an unscheduled hearing may be held later in the day. Emergency cases such as these will be referred to court administration to arrange for a judicial officer to hear your case.
Forms and assistance are free and a Protection Order Liaison is available to assist you with the selection of the appropriate protection order for your circumstances.
The liaison is located at the Family and Juvenile Court Division of the Clerk's Office. The address is:
Things to expect:
- You must complete forms petitioning the court for a Temporary Order for Protection.
- You will be asked to describe the most recent incident and/or threat and provide a history of incidents. Initial hearings are heard every court day.
- A Judge or Commissioner will review your paperwork; may ask you some questions; and will decide whether to grant or deny a temporary order.
- A second hearing will be held approximately two weeks later to grant or deny an Order for Protection effective for one year or longer. During these two weeks, the respondent will be served with both the Petition and the Temporary Order and notice of the hearing date. You must attend this hearing even if the respondent has not been served.
- Security officers are available at the courthouse to provide you with protection while attending court.
What is Sexual Assault?
It is when you are a victim of nonconsensual sexual conduct. The definition for sexual conduct is fairly broad and includes improper touching whether the victim is clothed or not.
"Nonconsensual" means: lack of freely given agreement.
"Sexual conduct" means: any intentional or knowing:
- touching or fondling of private parts of the clothed or unclothed body of another (or that the victim is forced to do to the abuser or others);
- display of private parts of the body to the victim (or that the victim is forced to show the abuser or others) for purposes of arousal or sexual gratification of the abuser;
- touching of the clothed or unclothed body of a child under 13 (or that the child is coerced or forced to do) if done for the sexual gratification or arousal of the abuser or others.
Who Qualifies for a Civil Sexual Assault Protection Order?
If there has been nonconsensual sexual conduct with you, your child, or a vulnerable adult, the victim qualifies for a Sexual Assault Protection Order. If you are in unsure, please feel free to call the Thurston County Clerk's Office and speak privately with one of our protection order liaisons.
When should I Obtain a Sexual Assault Protection Order?
You should seek a Protection Order to keep the abuser from you as soon as possible. Sexual Assault Protection Orders are routinely entered by the prosecuting attorney in adult and juvenile criminal cases. However, sometimes there is insufficient basis for the prosecutor to file criminal charges. If criminal charges have not yet been filed or will not be filed by the prosecutor (or if you were unable to obtain a protection order in the criminal case), a civil Sexual Assault Protection Order should be sought.
Where do I go to get a Sexual Assault Protection Order?
Contact the prosecutor or prosecutor's victim advocate if there are criminal charges pending. If not, go to the Superior Court Clerk's Office of the county where the victim resides (Thurston County Clerk's Office is located at Family and Juvenile Court).
How much does it cost?
Sexual Assault Protection Orders are free. Some law enforcement agencies charge a fee for service; however, those within Thurston County are free.
If you do not meet the definitions for a Domestic Violence or Sexual Assault Protection Order and someone is bothering you (such as a neighbor), you may qualify for an Anti-Harassment or Stalking Protection Order.
Click here for a worksheet to determine what type of protection order you quality for, and for the definition of unlawful harassment and stalking.
Sometimes the person may not know that they are bothering you. The Thurston County Superior Court routinely requires that you tell the harassing party to STOP doing the acts that bother you. If it continues, you may then seek the Protection Order.
You are the one who knows your situation and its severity. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL IT IS TOO LATE.
What if there is a child involved?
If the victim is under the age of 18, you may ask for a Protection Order. However, if the harassing party is under 18, the Thurston County Superior Court requires that you must have contacted law enforcement prior to your initial court hearing for Anti-Harassment Orders only.
How Much Does it Cost?
There is a $53 filing fee for initiating an Anti-harassment or Stalking Protection Order action at Family and Juvenile Court, plus the cost to have the other party served. If this presents a hardship, you can ask for paperwork to have this fee waived.
Where can I get One?
Anti-Harassment: If the abuser lives in Thurston County or the harassing acts occurred in Thurston County, you can get an Anti-Harassment Protection Order at the locations noted below. Stalking: If you live in the Thurston County or left your residence because of the stalking conduct and Thurston County is your new or former residence, you can get a Protection order at the locations listed below.
- Anti-Harassment or Stalking actions by or against a minor must be filed at the Thurston County Family and Juvenile Court, as well as those actions where you are seeking custody of a minor or asking the court to remove the harassing party from your residence.
- Family and Juvenile does not handle Anti-harassment or Stalking cases that do not involve minor children or cases that incidentally list minor children who are not involved directly in the harassment or stalking issues, unless the court already has an active case (or had an active case within the past 6 months) between the parties.
- ALL OTHER ANTI-HARASSMENT AND STALKING CASES can be brought in the Thurston County District Court.
Elder abuse and abuse of vulnerable adults is considered domestic violence when the act is done by a "family or household member" on the older and/or vulnerable adult.
Types of Elder Abuse are:
- Physical: Non-accidental use of physical force. It can include assault, inappropriate restraint, or overmedication.
- Sexual: Nonconsensual sexual contact of any kind, including forced or sexual contact with a person who is incapable of exercising consent because of physical or mental impairments.
- Psychological: Willful infliction of mental or emotional anguish by threat, humiliation, or other verbal or nonverbal abusive conduct. This may involve frightening, humiliating, intimidating, threatening or isolating the abused person. Or, it may involve threatening to place the person in an unfamiliar environment (nursing home or stranger), or threatening harm if he or she does not give the abuser money or property.
- Financial: Illegal or improper use of an older or vulnerable person's funds, property or resources. This may involve theft, fraud and unfulfilled promises of lifetime care in exchange for assets and limitations on the abused person's access to his or her assets. Older and/or vulnerable adults may be confused and sign documents that are not clearly understood (wills, powers of attorney or other legal documents). Coercing or tricking older or vulnerable adults is abusive. Financial exploitation is one of the most common forms of crime against vulnerable adults/the elderly. When older or vulnerable persons are no longer able to conduct their own business affairs, others begin to sign and cash their welfare, social security or pension checks for their own purpose.
- Neglect: When a "caregiver" fails to fulfill his or her responsibilities.
Who is a Vulnerable Adult/Elder?
- Adults 60 years or older who do not have the ability to care for themselves
- Adults who are found incapacitated by a court (RCW 11.88)
- Adults who have a developmental disability as defined under RCW 71A.10.020
- Adults who have been admitted to any facility
- Adults receiving services from home health, hospice or home care agencies
- Adults receiving services from an individual provider
What are some Indicators of Vulnerable Adult/Elder Abuse?
- Malnutrition, dehydration, poor personal hygiene
- Withholding drugs or medication or over medicating
- Untreated physical or mental health problems
- Inadequate heating or cooling
- Multiple injuries, burns or bruises (especially with vague explanations) and/or imprint injuries (bruising that keeps the shape of object such as hand/thumb/finger marks)
- Illogical explanations of injury
- Exaggerated defensiveness by caretaker
- Unwillingness to discuss problems with caretaker or in caretaker's presence
- Fearful of the caretaker but wanting to please caretaker
- Adequate income--but victim does not have sufficient food, heat, clothing, etc.
- Checks or legal documents clearing even when victim is not even capable of understanding such documents
What do I do if I am a Vulnerable Adult/Victim of Elder Abuse?
- Recognize that it is not your fault!
- Get to a safe place and seek medical help if needed
- Get a Protection Order
- Seek counseling and get professional help in making a safety plan
- The state may assist you in obtaining a Protection Order.
Where can I get a Vulnerable Adult Protection Order?
You can get one at the Superior Court of the county where the victim resides. In Thurston County you can get a Protection Order at the Superior Court Clerk's Office located at the Family and Juvenile Court facility in Tumwater, WA.
How much does it cost?
There is no filing fee for a Vulnerable Adult action.
Domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking are widespread problems that have devastating effects for individual victims and families. In the past, victims of violence have sometimes been forced to remain in unsafe situations because they were bound by residential lease agreements.
Today, laws exist that increase safety for victims by removing barriers and offering protection against discrimination. For example, you may:
- Request new keys at your expense to exclude one or more co-tenants.
- Terminate a rental agreement early without payment of rent past the last day of the month in which you terminated your tenancy.
- Receive your rental deposit back without penalty for early termination of your lease agreement.
A landlord can not:
- terminate a tenancy;
- fail to renew a tenancy;
- or refuse to enter into a rental agreement based on your (or a household member’s) status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, or based on a tenant having terminated a previous rental agreement early.
A landlord who refuses to enter into a rental agreement because you terminated a previous rental agreement early may be liable to you in a civil action for damages.
Where do I start?
To change the locks or have new keys made:
- You must have a court Order granting you possession of the dwelling and excluding one or more co-tenants.
- Give a certified copy of your Protection Order to your landlord,
- Ask your landlord to change the locks/keys to the home at your expense (The landlord must comply with the request and not give new keys to the tenant restrained or excluded by the court’s Order).
To terminate your rental agreement without paying rent past the last day of the month of the quitting date or paying an early termination penalty:
- Give a certified copy of your Protection Order to your landlord within 90 days of the act, event or circumstance that gave rise to the Protection Order.
- Notify the landlord in writing of your intent to vacate and what day you will be moving out.
- Provide the court in writing of your new address (be sure to state if it is confidential)
- A request to terminate the rental agreement must be made within 90 days of the reported act, event or circumstances that gave rise to the Protective Order.
What does my Landlord need to know?
Your landlord will need a certified copy of your Protection Order if you are asking for keys to exclude a co-tenant from the home or if you make a request to terminate your tenancy early.
For Change of Locks/Keys: Landlords must have the locks/keys changed at your expense upon your request. The Landlord must withhold keys from other co-tenants as set forth in the Protection Order.
For Early Termination of Tenancy: Provide your Protection Order and written request within 90 days. The landlord may want to see a copy of the Petition, to verify the date of the occurrence. Other tenants who are parties to the rental agreement are not released from their obligations under the rental agreement.
What if the Judge denies my Order for Protection?
If you did not get a Protection Order, you can give your landlord a report that you can obtain from law enforcement, a licensed mental health professional or other licensed counselor, a member of the clergy, or a crime victim/witness program trained advocate, verifying your victim status. Early termination of your tenancy can be made based upon this report.