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Washington

Local Resources

Stalking often occurs along with other crimes, like domestic violence and sexual assault. While there are no state coalitions for victims of stalking, many domestic violence and sexual assault programs are able to provide assistance. Many of the resources can be confusing to navigate, victim advocates are available to talk to you about address confidentiality, protection orders, and your states criminal and civil stalking laws. Victim advocates can also assist you with safety planning, keeping a log of stalking incidents, and how to be safe when using technology. Find services and/or an advocate in your county using the following links:

Address Confidentiality

Address confidentiality programs allow victims of stalking, sexual assault, domestic violence, or other types of crime to receive mail at a substitute address, which keeps their actual address private and prevents offenders from locating the victim through public records. Mail is sent to the legal substitute address, often a post office box, and then forwarded to the victim’s actual address. The substitute address can be provided whenever the victim’s address is required by a public agency. 

Click here for more information on the Address Confidentiality Program in Washington.

Protection Orders 

A protective order is a legal order issued by a state court that requires one person to stop harming and/or contacting another. Each state may have several types of protective orders: civil protective orders, criminal protective orders, or restraining orders, and they may have different names (for example, in Pennsylvania, there are “protection from abuse” orders). Some protective orders are specific to domestic and interfamilial violence, while others are broader, covering stalking, harassment, sexual assault, and other types of misconduct. An individual can get a protection order when the perpetrator is proven to have acted with intent to cause the victim emotional distress or fear for his/her safety, even when the perpetrator has not been charged or convicted. They permit the victim to call the police to have the abuser arrested if the abuser violates any part of the order. 

Click here for more information on protection orders in Washington.

Criminal Stalking Laws

Criminal stalking laws define when a perpetrator may be charged with the crime of stalking, and what infractions are required to bring such a charge. The laws usually define various misdemeanor and felony offenses that correlate with the severity of the transgression. Based on police investigation, a state prosecutor will determine what charges to bring against an offender, and will then file charges against the perpetrator (formally known as an indictment). A trial typically follows, and the defendant may be offered a plea agreement. The criminal statute will also delineate potential punishments, if the perpetrator is convicted, which may include probation, house arrest, and incarceration, among others. Restitution may be requested and awarded to the victim by court order following a conviction, usually at a sentencing hearing.

Click here for more information on criminal stalking laws in Washington.

Civil Stalking Laws

Civil stalking laws allow victims of stalking to initiate a lawsuit to recover compensation from the perpetrator and any third party that may be responsible for the crime. In a civil lawsuit, there is no possibility of a criminal punishment; instead, the victim plaintiff is suing for actual harm (known as actual damages), punitive damages, attorney’s fees, and court costs. Civil statutes also often provide for victims to obtain protective orders against the perpetrator.

Click here for more information on civil stalking laws in Washington.

National Resources

If you have more questions:

  • VictimConnect Resource Center - Confidential information, support and referrals for victims of crime via telephone, chat and text including safety planning and crime reporting.
  • WomensLaw.org - State-specific legal information related regarding protection orders, custody, divorce, state gun laws and more. WomensLaw.org also operates an email hotline where victims, their family/friends and advocates can write to ask legal questions.

Address Confidentiality

The Washington State Address Confidentiality Program assists crime victims who have relocated. Click here to find help with your application in your county. Click here to learn more about what the program in your state covers.

Contact Information

  • Website: https://www.sos.wa.gov/acp/
  • Address: ACP, PO Box 257, Olympia, WA 98507-0257
  • Phone: (800) 822-1065 (Washington Only) or (360) 753-2972

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Protection Orders

§ 7.92.040. Petition -- Who may file 
A petition for a stalking protection order may be filed by a person:

(1) Who does not qualify for a protection order under chapter 26.50 RCW and who is a victim of stalking conduct; or

(2) On behalf of any of the following persons who is a victim of stalking conduct and who does not qualify for a protection order under chapter 26.50 RCW:

(a) A minor child, where the petitioner is a parent, a legal custodian, or, where the respondent is not a parent, an adult with whom the child is currently residing; or

(b) A vulnerable adult as defined in RCW 74.34.020 and where the petitioner is an interested person as defined in RCW 74.34.020(10).

 

§ 7.92.030. Petition for stalking protection order -- Creation -- Contents 
There shall exist an action known as a petition for a stalking protection order.

(1) A petition for relief shall allege the existence of stalking conduct and shall be accompanied by an affidavit made under oath stating the specific reasons that have caused the petitioner to become reasonably fearful that the respondent intends to injure the petitioner or another person, or the petitioner's property or the property of another. The petition shall disclose the existence of any other litigation or of any other restraining, protection, or no-contact orders between the parties.

(2) A petition for relief shall be filed as a separate, stand-alone civil case and a petition for relief may be made regardless of whether or not there is a pending lawsuit, complaint, petition, or other action between the parties.

(3) Forms and instructional brochures and the necessary number of certified copies shall be provided to the petitioner free of charge.

(4) A person is not required to post a bond to obtain relief in any proceeding under this section.

(5) If the petition states that disclosure of the petitioner's address would risk abuse of the petitioner or any member of the petitioner's family or household, that address may be omitted from all documents filed with the court. If the petitioner has not disclosed an address under this subsection, the petitioner shall designate an alternative address at which the respondent may serve notice of any motions.

§ 7.92.100. Burden of proof -- Issuance of protection order -- Remedies 

(1) 

(a) If the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the petitioner has been a victim of stalking conduct by the respondent, the court shall issue a stalking protection order.

(b) The petitioner shall not be denied a stalking protection order because the petitioner or the respondent is a minor or because the petitioner did not report the stalking conduct to law enforcement. The court, when determining whether or not to issue a stalking protection order, may not require proof of the respondent's intentions regarding the acts alleged by the petitioner. Modification and extension of prior stalking protection orders shall be in accordance with this chapter.

(2) The court may provide relief as follows:

(a) Restrain the respondent from having any contact, including nonphysical contact, with the petitioner directly, indirectly, or through third parties regardless of whether those third parties know of the order;

(b) Exclude the respondent from the petitioner's residence, workplace, or school, or from the day care, workplace, or school of the petitioner's minor children;

(c) Prohibit the respondent from knowingly coming within, or knowingly remaining within, a specified distance from a specified location;

(d) Prohibit the respondent from keeping the petitioner and/or the petitioner's minor children under surveillance, to include electronic surveillance;

(e) Order any other injunctive relief as necessary or appropriate for the protection of the petitioner, to include a mental health and/or chemical dependency evaluation; and

(f) Require the respondent to pay the administrative court costs and service fees, as established by the county or municipality incurring the expense and to reimburse the petitioner for costs incurred in bringing the action, including reasonable attorneys' fees.

(3) Unless otherwise stated in the order, when a person is petitioning on behalf of a minor child or vulnerable adult, the relief authorized in this section shall apply only for the protection of the victim, and not the petitioner.

(4) In cases where the petitioner and the respondent attend the same public or private elementary, middle, or high school, the court, when issuing a protection order and providing relief, shall consider, among the other facts of the case, the severity of the act, any continuing physical danger or emotional distress to the petitioner, and the expense difficulty, and educational disruption that would be caused by a transfer of the respondent to another school. The court may order that the person restrained in the order not attend the public or approved private elementary, middle, or high school attended by the person protected by the order. In the event the court orders a transfer of the restrained person to another school, the parents or legal guardians of the person restrained in the order are responsible for transportation and other costs associated with the change of school by the person restrained in the order. The court shall send notice of the restriction on attending the same school as the person protected by the order to the public or approved private school the person restrained by the order will attend and to the school the person protected by the order attends.

 

§ 7.92.130. Protection orders -- Duration 

(1) Except as otherwise provided in this section or RCW 7.92.160, a final stalking protection order shall be effective for a fixed period of time or be permanent.

(2) Any ex parte temporary or final stalking protection order may be renewed one or more times. The petitioner may apply for renewal of the order by filing a petition for renewal at any time within the three months before the order expires. If the motion for renewal is uncontested and the petitioner seeks no modification of the order, the order may be renewed on the basis of the petitioner's motion or affidavit stating that there has been no material change in relevant circumstances since entry of the order and stating the reason for the requested renewal. The court shall grant the petition for renewal unless the respondent proves by a preponderance of the evidence that the respondent will not resume acts of stalking conduct against the petitioner or the petitioner's children or family or household members when the order expires. The court may renew the stalking protection order for another fixed time period or may enter a permanent order as provided in this section. The court may award court costs, service fees, and reasonable attorneys' fees as provided in RCW 7.92.100.

(3) Any stalking protection order which would expire on a court holiday shall instead expire at the close of the next court business day.

(4) The practice of dismissing or suspending a criminal prosecution in exchange for the issuance of a stalking protection order undermines the purposes of this chapter. This section shall not be construed as encouraging that practice.

(5) If the court declines to issue an order for protection or declines to renew an order for protection, the court shall state in writing on the order the particular reasons for the court's denial.

§ 7.92.190. Modification or termination of protection orders 

(1) Upon application with notice to all parties and after a hearing, the court may modify the terms of an existing stalking protection order.

(2) A respondent's motion to modify or terminate an existing stalking protection order must include a declaration setting forth facts supporting the requested order for termination or modification. The nonmoving parties to the proceeding may file opposing declarations. The court shall deny the motion unless it finds that adequate cause for hearing the motion is established by the declarations. If the court finds that the respondent established adequate cause, the court shall set a date for hearing the respondent's motion.

(3) The court may not terminate or modify an existing stalking protection order unless the respondent proves by a preponderance of the evidence that there has been a substantial change in circumstances such that the respondent will not resume acts of stalking conduct against the petitioner or those persons protected by the protection order if the order is terminated or modified. The petitioner bears no burden of proving that he or she has a current reasonable fear of harm by the respondent.

(4) A court may require the respondent to pay the petitioner for costs incurred in responding to a motion to terminate or modify a stalking protection order, including reasonable attorneys' fees.

(5) In any situation where an order is terminated or modified before its expiration date, the clerk of the court shall forward on or before the next judicial day a true copy of the modified order or the termination order to the appropriate law enforcement agency specified in the modified or termination order. Upon receipt of the order, the law enforcement agency shall promptly enter it in the computer-based criminal intelligence information system, or if the order is terminated, remove the order from the computer-based criminal intelligence information system.

 

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Criminal Stalking Laws

Rev. Code Wash. (ARCW) § 10.14.020. Definitions. (2011)
Unless the context clearly requires otherwise, the definitions in this section apply throughout this chapter.

(1) "Course of conduct" means a pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of purpose. "Course of conduct" includes, in addition to any other form of communication, contact, or conduct, the sending of an electronic communication, but does not include constitutionally protected free speech. Constitutionally protected activity is not included within the meaning of "course of conduct."

(2)  "Unlawful harassment" means a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person which seriously alarms, annoys, harasses, or is detrimental to such person, and which serves no legitimate or lawful purpose. The course of conduct shall be such as would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, and shall actually cause substantial emotional distress to the petitioner, or, when the course of conduct would cause a reasonable parent to fear for the well-being of their child.

 

Rev. Code Wash. (ARCW) § 9A.46.110. Stalking. (2007)
(1)  A person commits the crime of stalking if, without lawful authority and under circumstances not amounting to a felony attempt of another crime:


(a)  He or she intentionally and repeatedly harasses or repeatedly follows another person; and

(b)  The person being harassed or followed is placed in fear that the stalker intends to injure the person, another person, or property of the person or of another person. The feeling of fear must be one that a reasonable person in the same situation would experience under all the circumstances; and

(c)  The stalker either:
(i) Intends to frighten, intimidate, or harass the person; or

(ii) Knows or reasonably should know that the person is afraid, intimidated, or harassed even if the stalker did not intend to place the person in fear or intimidate or harass the person.


(2)

(a) It is not a defense to the crime of stalking under subsection (1)(c)(i) of this section that the stalker was not given actual notice that the person did not want the stalker to contact or follow the person; and

(b) It is not a defense to the crime of stalking under subsection (1)(c)(ii) of this section that the stalker did not intend to frighten, intimidate, or harass the person.

(3)  It shall be a defense to the crime of stalking that the defendant is a licensed private investigator acting within the capacity of his or her license as provided by chapter 18.165 RCW.

 


(4)  Attempts to contact or follow the person after being given actual notice that the person does not want to be contacted or followed constitutes prima facie evidence that the stalker intends to intimidate or harass the person. "Contact" includes, in addition to any other form of contact or communication, the sending of an electronic communication to the person.

(5)
(a) Except as provided in (b) of this subsection, a person who stalks another person is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.

(b) A person who stalks another is guilty of a class C felony if any of the following applies: (i) The stalker has previously been convicted in this state or any other state of any crime of harassment, as defined in RCW 9A.46.060, of the same victim or members of the victim's family or household or any person specifically named in a protective order; (ii) the stalking violates any protective order protecting the person being stalked; (iii) the stalker has previously been convicted of a gross misdemeanor or felony stalking offense under this section for stalking another person; (iv) the stalker was armed with a deadly weapon, as defined in RCW 9.94A.602, while stalking the person; (v)(A) the stalker's victim is or was a law enforcement officer; judge; juror; attorney; victim advocate; legislator; community corrections' officer; an employee, contract staff person, or volunteer of a correctional agency; or an employee of the child protective, child welfare, or adult protective services division within the department of social and health services; and (B) the stalker stalked the victim to retaliate against the victim for an act the victim performed during the course of official duties or to influence the victim's performance of official duties; or (vi) the stalker's victim is a current, former, or prospective witness in an adjudicative proceeding, and the stalker stalked the victim to retaliate against the victim as a result of the victim's testimony or potential testimony.

(6)  As used in this section:

(a)  "Correctional agency" means a person working for the department of natural resources in a correctional setting or any state, county, or municipally operated agency with the authority to direct the release of a person serving a sentence or term of confinement and includes but is not limited to the department of corrections, the indeterminate sentence review board, and the department of social and health services.

(b)  "Follows" means deliberately maintaining visual or physical proximity to a specific person over a period of time. A finding that the alleged stalker repeatedly and deliberately appears at the person's home, school, place of employment, business, or any other location to maintain visual or physical proximity to the person is sufficient to find that the alleged stalker follows the person. It is not necessary to establish that the alleged stalker follows the person while in transit from one location to another.

(c)  "Harasses" means unlawful harassment as defined in RCW 10.14.020.

(d)  "Protective order" means any temporary or permanent court order prohibiting or limiting violence against, harassment of, contact or communication with, or physical proximity to another person.

(e)  "Repeatedly" means on two or more separate occasions.

Rev. Code Wash. (ARCW) § 9.61.260. Cyberstalking. (2004)
(1)  A person is guilty of cyberstalking if he or she, with intent to harass, intimidate, torment, or embarrass any other person, and under circumstances not constituting telephone harassment, makes an electronic communication to such other person or a third party:

 

(a)  Using any lewd, lascivious, indecent, or obscene words, images, or language, or suggesting the commission of any lewd or lascivious act;

(b)  Anonymously or repeatedly whether or not conversation occurs; or

(c)  Threatening to inflict injury on the person or property of the person called or any member of his or her family or household.

(2)  Cyberstalking is a gross misdemeanor, except as provided in subsection (3) of this section.
 
(3)  Cyberstalking is a class C felony if either of the following applies:

(a)  The perpetrator has previously been convicted of the crime of harassment, as defined in RCW 9A.46.060, with the same victim or a member of the victim's family or household or any person specifically named in a no-contact order or no-harassment order in this or any other state; or

(b)  The perpetrator engages in the behavior prohibited under subsection (1)(c) of this section by threatening to kill the person threatened or any other person.

(4)  Any offense committed under this section may be deemed to have been committed either at the place from which the communication was made or at the place where the communication was received.
 
(5)  For purposes of this section, "electronic communication" means the transmission of information by wire, radio, optical cable, electromagnetic, or other similar means. "Electronic communication" includes, but is not limited to, electronic mail, internet-based communications, pager service, and electronic text messaging.

 

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Civil Stalking Laws

Wa. Rev. Code Ann. § 9A.36.083. Malicious harassment--Civil action. (1993) 
In addition to the criminal penalty provided in RCW 9A.36.080 for committing a crime of malicious harassment, the victim may bring a civil cause of action for malicious harassment against the harasser. A person may be liable to the victim of malicious harassment for actual damages, punitive damages of up to ten thousand dollars, and reasonable attorneys' fees and costs incurred in bringing the action.

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