Victims of sexual assault in the State of Washington may petition the court for a sexual assault protection order (SAPO) even if they do not report the assault to the police. Given the pain, suffering, and humiliation caused by sexual assault, the best way to protect yourself is to consult a Seattle civil protection order attorney.
Jennifer Horwitz Law assists clients with obtaining and defending orders of protection. Unlike a criminal complaint, a sexual assault protection order is a civil order to protect victims from their alleged attacker. Lead attorney Jennifer Horwitz knows that sexual assault is a serious crime and will work to protect your safety.
Jennifer is also aware that false accusations of sexual assault can also arise and she defends individuals against unwarranted protection orders. Whatever side of the conflict you are on, trust Jennifer to stand by you. Contact Jennifer Horwitz Law today for a consultation.
Sexual Assault Protection Orders in Washington State
A sexual assault protection order protects sexual assault victims. A SAPO is filed against a person accused of engaging in non-consensual conduct with their victim. Such protection orders are usually sought when the parties attend the same high school or college, work together, are neighbors, or are associated in some other way. However, a SAPO is also appropriate for a situation where a stranger commits a sexual assault as long as the identity of the person who committed the assault is known to the victim.
Under Washington law, sexual assault is defined as any sexual contact with another person without that person’s consent and includes various types of unwanted sexual touching in addition to penetration.
A victim of sexual assault 16 or older may petition the court for a sexual assault protection order; parents or guardians of victims under age 16 must petition on their behalf. In addition, third parties may file on behalf of vulnerable adults who are disabled, elderly, in poor health, or unable to access the court system.
A sexual assault protection order does the following:
- Orders the respondent not to have any further contact, direct or indirect, with the petitioner
- Prevents the respondent from being at the petitioner’s residence, workplace, or school
- Orders the petitioner to stay a set distance away from a specific location (e.g. school, work, or home)
- Authorizes the judge to take any other necessary or appropriate steps to protect the petitioner, for example, ordering the respondent to move or change schools
Obtaining A Sexual Assault Protection Order
To obtain a sexual assault protection order, the person seeking the order (the petitioner) should file a petition with the Superior Court in the county in which they reside. The petition must state that there has been nonconsensual sexual contact or penetration. Also, the petition must include an affidavit in which the victim alleges specific actions and statements made during the assault or immediately afterward that make them reasonably fearful of future harm by the alleged perpetrator (the respondent).
Once a petitioner files, the court will hold an ex parte hearing (without the other side present) during which a judge may issue a temporary protection order. The judge will then schedule a hearing 14 days later to consider any written response filed by the respondent and to hear arguments from the respondent to determine whether to issue a sexual assault protection order, the duration of the order and the specific provisions that the order should contain. Because this is a civil and not a criminal proceeding, the petitioner need only prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence.
How Jennifer Horwitz Law Can Help
If you need a sexual assault protection order, turn to Jennifer Horwitz Law. Jennifer Horwitz will listen to your story and determine how to best present the facts to achieve a positive outcome. She has the skills and experience to organize declarations, police reports, social media posts, emails, and any other evidence to include with your petition.
You can depend on Jennifer to assist with completing and filing the petition and affidavit and pleading your case in court. Jennifer Horwitz has extensive experience litigating before the Superior Courts of Washington State, including King County, and will do whatever it takes to protect your safety.
Jennifer also defends respondents in sexual assault protection order cases. If you disagree with the order a petitioner is seeking, Jennifer will work to protect your rights and present evidence that supports your claim that there was no sexual assault. Sexual assault is a serious offense, and victims deserve protection; however, false accusations are not uncommon when relationships end badly or when the parties have a consensual encounter but one of the parties later regrets the encounter..
Contact A Sexual Assault Protection Lawyer In Seattle
Sexual assault protection orders are appropriate in many cases but can also be sought for improper purposes. Whether you a seeking a sexual assault protection order or need assistance defending against one, you can rest assured that Jennifer Horwitz will stand by you. Contact Jennifer Horwitz Law today to learn how she can help.