What follows is step-by-step instruction on how to file a petition with the court for a Stalking Protection Order. It first involves completing paperwork and appearing before a judicial officer to ask for a “temporary” emergency order.
If the judge grants the order, the next phase involves A) arranging to have someone serve your petition and order on the respondent and B) attending another hearing two weeks later whereby the respondent has the option to attend and speak.
Finally, if all requirements are met, C) a “full” order is granted whereby the respondent is prohibited from contacting you and could potentially be charged with a crime for violating the order.
Things to consider before you begin
A Stalking Protection Order must be requested and filed in a court:
A Stalking Protection Order is a civil order issued by a court at the request of an individual, the “petitioner”, who has experienced stalking by someone, the “respondent.”
Certain information is required:
To file for a Stalking Protection Order, you will need to reveal to the court:
- Your name
- The name of the person stalking you — The court will not be able to file an order against someone without knowing who they are. If you do not know the name of the person stalking you, consider contacting the police or others who may be able to help identify the stalker.
- A detailed summary of the intimidating or threatening behavior which you have experienced, including evidence if you have it
- That you either live in or have fled to the county in which you file your order
The Stalking Protection Order process requires a minimum of 2 court hearings over the course of at least 2 weeks
It can take longer depending on how long it takes to serve the stalker/respondent. Each court visit could take 2 – 4 hours. Make sure to plan accordingly so you will not be rushed and distracted. Consider bringing a support person with you to court hearings.
If you have children, try to arrange childcare so that you will have the time and emotional energy you need to complete the paperwork. PLEASE NOTE: The only courthouse that offers childcare is the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent
If you are a victim/witness in an existing criminal case and stalking charges have been filed, the court may have already issued a Criminal Stalking No Contact Order. Contact the prosecutor or advocate working on your case for more information.
Filing for a Stalking Protection Order (9 Steps)
Step 1: Determining WHERE to file for your Stalking Protection Order
Stalking and Anti-Harassment Order petitions are primarily filed in District Court, though in some cases, they may be filed in or transferred to the Superior Court (for instance, if the stalker is under the age of 18).
It is a good idea to contact the court where you plan to file for specific instructions such as time deadlines to file paperwork in order to be heard that day.
King County Court Information
- King County District Court
- King County Superior Court — Seattle (King County Courthouse)
- King County Superior Court — Kent (Maleng Regional Justice Center)
Step 2: Obtaining and completing the forms
Once you decide where to file, the next step is to obtain all of the forms you will need to file a Stalking Protection Order.
Where to get the forms:
- At the clerk’s office of the court where you plan to file
- Also at the WA State Courts website
- Also in the Forms section below
Step 3: Filing the forms with the Court
Once you complete the forms you will need to file them with the Clerk’s Office for that court. The clerk will stamp a case number on your forms and will then send you to see a Judge or Commissioner who will decide if a two-week, Temporary Stalking Protection Order should be granted. This is called the “Ex Parte Hearing.”
Step 4: Presenting your order to a Judge/Commissioner
At the Ex Parte Hearing, the Judge or Commissioner will:
- Read the forms you completed
- Possibly ask a few questions
- Decide whether or not to grant you a two-week Temporary Stalking Protection Order.
- Sometimes the Judge or Commissioner legally determines that an Anti-Harassment Order is the more appropriate option for petitioners based on the information provided to the court.
Step 5: Filing your signed order with the Clerk’s Office
Once the Judge or Commissioner signs the order, be sure to take it back to the Clerk’s Office to get several free, certified copies of the order. Request as many copies as you need to always have a copy on you, to give to your employer, neighbor, your child(ren)’s school or daycare, etc.
If you provided an address for the stalker (now the respondent) the Clerk will send a copy of your petition and signed order to the law enforcement agency where you live and where the respondent lives so they can “serve” them with a copy of the petition and the temporary order.
These documents let the respondent know that an order is in place (called “serving” or “providing notice to the respondent”). IMPORTANT: Everything included with the petition will be copied and given to the respondent. Also, your petition and order will be considered public record once filed with the court.
Even though a temporary protection order is now in place, please continue to take steps to remain safe – especially around the time that the order is served.
Step 6: Determining how to best “serve” the Stalker/Respondent
Service of your order is CRITICAL to its enforcement.
The temporary order is in effect from the moment the Judge or Commissioner signs it BUT law enforcement will not be able to arrest or cite the respondent for violating the order until there is proof that the respondent was personally served with your petition and order. Once the petition and order have been successfully served, the order is enforceable and the respondent can be arrested or charged for violations.
The time when a respondent is served with a Stalking Protection Order can be dangerous. There are different ways to have the respondent served —consider the options that you think will be both successful and safe.
There are 4 ways to attempt to serve the stalker/respondent:
- Have law enforcement personally serve the respondent. This is a good option when you have an address for the respondent (home, work, school, etc.) The court will make arrangements for law enforcement to attempt to serve the respondent at no cost.
- Have someone other than yourself who is at least 18 yrs. old personally serve the respondent. As the petitioner, you cannot serve the respondent. The person who serves the respondent must be instructed on which papers should be served. They must properly complete a “Return of Service” form and file it with the court as proof the order was served. Please consider the safety of the server – if having someone serve the stalker is too risky, have law enforcement serve the respondent instead.
- Use the “911 Packet” provided by the court to call 911 to have law enforcement personally serve the respondent when you cannot pinpoint a location to attempt service and you have no other option. In this situation, you would call 911 when the stalker is present and attempting to contact you.
- As a last resort, the court may allow the respondent to be served by mail or publication. The court will need detailed statements from those who unsuccessfully attempted service on the respondent and a statement outlining your belief that the respondent is avoiding service.
What happens if the respondent has not been served in time?
For the court to take the next step and extend the order longer than the initial two weeks, there must be proof that respondent was served with the Temporary Order and Petition at least five business days before the next scheduled hearing. If you know that the respondent has not been served but you want the order to continue to be in place, you must appear for the next hearing and request a continuance or extension of the temporary order. If you do not appear at the full hearing your order will be dropped.
How do I know if the respondent has been served?
- If you had law enforcement serve the respondent, check with them to confirm service.
- Contact the court to see if the Return of Service form has been filed.
- Register with SAVIN Protective Order to be notified of service. SAVIN PO will also notify you when your order is about to expire.
Step 7: Full Order Hearing
When your temporary Stalking Protection Order is signed by the Judge or Commissioner you will be given a return hearing date that is usually fourteen days later. The respondent has the option to appear at this next hearing. If the respondent does appear, the court will hear from both parties and then make the decision of whether to extend the temporary protections for a longer period of time, such as one year.
It can be difficult to be in the same room as the stalker. You can bring a support person to any court hearing with you. You can request security accompany you to the Clerk’s Office and to your car. You may also have an option to appear by telephone at this hearing. Check with the court to make arrangements if possible.
It can also be hard to hear the stalker speak to the court and possibly deny everything or give some other explanation for the behavior. Prepare to be as detailed as possible. Take your time when addressing the court. You can look at your petition or any notes you’ve prepared to help you at this hearing. If the respondent has hired an attorney, you have the option to ask the court for a continuance to talk to an attorney yourself.
If the stalker/respondent has not been served by at least 5 days before the scheduled full order hearing, you will need to request an extension or continuance to try to serve them. If you know that the respondent has not been served but you still want the order to be in place, you must appear for the full order hearing and request a continuance or extension of your temporary order; otherwise, the order will be dropped.
Step 8: Filing your Full Order
Once the court signs your full order, take the order to the Clerk’s Office to file the original and to obtain free certified copies. As before, request as many as you need to always have a copy on you, to give to your employer, to your child(ren)’s school or daycare, etc. If the respondent was not present at the hearing, either the Clerk’s Office will send a copy of your new order to law enforcement to attempt to serve the respondent with the most recent order, or other arrangements for service will need to be made.
Step 9: Enforcing your order
Calling 911 is the best way to report violations of your order. When you call 911, be sure to have a copy of your order with you and if possible, a copy of the Return of Service to show that the respondent was served with your order. It is also important to document any violations in case you want to modify or renew the order. Here are two examples of a Stalking Incident and Behavior Log to help you do this:
Continue to work on your safety plan. Remember a Stalking Protection Order is just one part of an overall plan to keep you safe.
Forms You Will Need To Complete
(if the stalker is a minor, scroll down to “Forms for Minors”):
Form 1: Petition for Order for Protection-Harassment and/or Stalking
This form lets the court know:
- Who needs to be protected
- Specific details of stalking conduct experienced
- What kinds of protections are requested
- If the stalker should be ordered to surrender any firearms or other dangerous weapons
- Why you believe you need the protection
IMPORTANT: Provide as much information as possible to describe the stalking behavior. Be detailed about what the stalker is doing, when, how often, and how it is impacting you. Also remember that the stalker will have the opportunity to read and respond to everything in your petition if they are served and choose to respond. Do not include any confidential addresses or confidential information on the petition or temporary order because the respondent will get a copy of everything filed with the court.
IMPORTANT: Attach any evidence of the stalking to the petition such as copies of texts, call records, emails, social media posts, stalking incident logs, police reports, witness statements, etc.
Form 2: Law Enforcement Information Sheet
This form provides law enforcement with information that will assist them in serving your papers and enforcing your order. Provide as much information as possible about the respondent, including an address for the respondent. If you want your address to remain confidential, you may list the name and contact information of someone whom law enforcement can contact to reach you.
IMPORTANT: This form is confidential and is not to be filed with the court or served on the respondent. The information on the form is for law enforcement and court officials only to be able to serve the respondent and enter the order into police databases.
Form 3: Temporary Protection Order & Notice of Hearing
This is the temporary order form that the judge or commissioner will issue if all conditions are met. Check with the court clerk to see what parts of the form you may need to fill out prior to the hearing.
Form 4: Order for Protection & Notice of Hearing
This is the form you will complete for your “full order” hearing that replaces the Temporary Protection Order and is typically in effect for one year or longer. Check with the court clerk to see what parts of the form you may need to fill out prior to the hearing.
Form 5: Return of Service
The Return of Service is the form that must be filed with the court when the petition, temporary order, and notice of hearing are served on the respondent. If someone other than law enforcement is personally serving the respondent, they must complete this form by marking all relevant checkboxes and then file the form with the court. Here is a tip sheet for completing the Return of Service properly.
Form 6 (optional): Motion for Surrender of Weapons
If the stalker/respondent is using guns or other dangerous weapons to stalk, threaten, harass or intimidate you, then you can also ask the court to order the respondent to turn in all weapons while your protection order is in effect. For more information on firearms surrender laws, click here.
If certain circumstances exist that make removing firearms or other dangerous weapons from someone an immediate priority, it may be more appropriate to ask the court for an Extreme Risk Protection Order.
Forms for Minors
PLEASE NOTE: If the stalker/respondent is under the age of 18, Superior Court is the appropriate court in which to file. The following forms specific to minors must be filed:
Now that I have a Stalking Protection Order
Guidelines for enforcing a Stalking Protection Order and tips for staying safe and keeping the right people informed of your situation.