In the new age of technology, harassment is only increasing. If you live in the Seattle area and are being repeatedly harassed by someone, you don’t have to live in fear. There are orders of protection that you can file that can stop you from being a victim. In Washington, it is illegal to harass someone. Under domestic violence laws, if you are being harassed there are various ways that you can seek to have the other person stop.
In Seattle, the term “unlawful harassment” is used when someone follows a “course of conduct” that willingly alarms, harasses, or annoys another person with no legitimate reason or purpose for doing so. If you can prove that the way that someone is behaving towards you would cause any “reasonable” person to suffer from emotional distress, and that you are suffering from that emotional distress, then you can file for an anti-harassment protection order.
“Course of conduct”
“Course of conduct” is defined as a series of events or acts that happen over a specified period of time, and that are ongoing and repetitive.
What type of evidence does a court use to determine which acts are lawful and which aren’t?
To determine whether you are being harassed, the court will look at the following things:
- Whether the respondent (the person you are claiming is harassing you) is initiating the contact or if you are
- If you have made it clear to the respondent that you no longer want to have contact with them
- If the behavior of the respondent is either annoying, harassing, or alarming you
- If the behavior of the respondent is interfering with your daily life or your privacy, or if it is creating a hostile, intimidating, or threatening atmosphere for you
- If the respondent has previously been limited in contacting you in the past through a court order
An order of anti-harassment
An anti-harassment order is a specific type of court order that prohibits the respondent from harassing a victim. It is filed in civil court, and restricts the person harassing you from contacting you further without consequences. Once you have an order of anti-harassment in place, law enforcement is notified and the order becomes enforceable in the county and state where you live. An anti-harassment order prevents the respondent from having contact with you, from being able to survey you and requires that they maintain a specific distance from your workplace or home.
Do you need to have a lawyer to get an anti-harassment order?
Seattle civil protection orders can be filed in without an attorney. There are forms that you can download off the internet and bring to your local courthouse. Just make sure that you fill the paperwork out correctly and explain in full detail the events that led to you filing for the order. The more details you can provide, the better. The court is allowed to give you advice if you need it to complete the forms, but you can always hire an attorney to ensure that it is filed correctly and to make sure that the harassment stops. After you have completed the forms, you bring them to the clerk, and they will advise you on how to file them.
Once you file for an anti-harassment order, a hearing will be set on the docket within two weeks of your filing date. During that time, the respondent will be served papers to let them know of the impending court date. For the anti-harassment order to go into effect, the papers must be served. Once the order goes into effect, it lasts for one year. The court typically will ask law enforcement to serve the papers on your behalf. At the hearing, the court will determine the validity of the allegations and whether anything needs to be revised. Generally, the orders will last for one year, but sometimes they can be extended longer if necessary.
If you are being harassed in Seattle, you don’t have to live in fear. Having an anti-harassment order in place can prohibit whoever is disrupting your life from doing so.