Safety should always be the first priority before seeking a Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO). After a Domestic Violence Survivor is in a safe place, contacting an attorney to help is highly recommended.
If an arrest has been made a criminal protection order or no-contact order may be in place. However, even if there is a criminal protection order, a survivor should also consider asking the court for a civil protection order. A criminal protection order may no longer be in effect when charges are dropped. Additionally, a criminal protection order will not include any children. Having both a criminal and civil protection order can be beneficial. The process for obtaining a civil protection order is complex with many requirements.
In order to file a petition for a domestic violence protection order, the domestic violence survivor must meet the criteria set forth in RCW 26.50. The person must be a victim of domestic violence or fear violence by a family member or a member of their household. Domestic violence means physical harm, bodily injury, assault, the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, sexual assault, or stalking. Anyone of the listed items is sufficient justification to seek a protection order.
Remember, each county may have specific rules regarding how to file a petition, service, and timing of the action. An attorney with experience in domestic violence protection orders can offer assistance.