Protection orders are there to prevent contact between two people. It may involve physical or personal contact, phone or text contact, email or social media contact, or communication through a third party. In many cases, protection orders also involve remaining a certain distance away from someone’s home, school, or place of employment.

Can I File For A Restraining Order?

If you approach a Court Clerk and ask this question, most likely he/she will get confused and will ask you to be specific. People often say this when requesting an order to prevent abuse, or harm.

As this term can be confusing, there are different types of protection orders. Actually, a restraining order is only one kind of court order. There is a protection order that applies to different people and different scenarios. The primary purpose of most court orders is to keep the “respondent” or “defendant” from contacting or harming the “petitioner” or “victim/witness”, as mentioned above. This will be you or someone you know who is feeling threatened, or harmed. It is therefore imperative you understand which protection order is right for you. Violation of these orders could result in criminal prosecution.

Types of Protection Orders

There are simply two types of protection orders. Civil orders and criminal orders. Civil orders are orders you file / request. Criminal orders are requested by WA State (through a prosecutor) in a criminal case.

It is highly important to be aware of the different types of protection orders that are available in the event you are in a situation where you either need to seek one or must defend against one brought by another person.

Following are the types of protection orders:

Domestic Violence Protection Order
Stalking Protection Order
Anti-harrassment Protection Order
Sexual Assault Protection Order
Vulnerable Adult Protection Order
Extreme Risk Protection Order
Restraining Order

Domestic Violence Protection Order vs Restraining Order

Domestic Violence Protection Order is the most commonly requested order. It is a civil order from the court telling the family or household member who threatened or assaulted you not to harm you again.

Can be filed by:

Persons who are or were married.
Persons who are or were domestic partners.
Persons who have a child in common.
Adults who do or did reside together.
Persons 16 years or older who have or have had a dating relationship.
Adults who are related by blood or marriage.
Persons with a biological or legal parent-child relationship, including step-parents and step-children, and grandparents and grandchildren.

A protection order CAN:

order the Respondent not to threaten or hurt you.
order the Respondent not to enter your residence.
give one parent temporary custody of children.
set a schedule for visitation with minor children.
order the Respondent to leave a shared residence.
grant you possession of essential personal effects.
grant you use of a vehicle.
order the Respondent to attend counseling.

A protection order CANNOT:

order child support.
order maintenance (alimony).
assign most property to either party.
establish permanent child custody or use of the shared residence.

Read more here.

Restraining order, on the other hand, is broader than a domestic violence protection order, since it can deal with property issues, child support, spousal support, as well as domestic violence and temporary custody issues.

Other Protection Orders Civil and Criminal

Criminal Orders include Harassment No Contact Orders and No Contact Orders. In the next weeks, we will be discussing more about other types of protection orders.


Washington VINE Protective Order (WA VPO) is not a type of protection order but a free and confidential service that allows petitioners to register for notification when a protective order of any type that has been served by law enforcement.

If you are seeking protection or a party seeking an order against you, contact us immediately to schedule a consult with our compassionate and helpful attorneys. We will help you understand your rights – options, including the next right step for you.