A sexual assault protection order, sometimes referred to as a “SAPO,” is a civil order issued by a court at the request of a sexual assault victim or by someone else on his or her behalf. Persons filing these orders essentially ask the court to tell another person to stay away from them, their home, school, work, or other place specifically named in the order. Any person 16 years of age or older who is a victim of sexual assault may seek to obtain a sexual assault protection order. One may seek an order even if the sexual assault forming the basis for the order was not reported to law enforcement authorities.

An often-asked question in these cases is how Washington law defines “sexual assault”? The law defines sexual assault as:

  • Nonconsensual sexual touching of the genitals, anus, or breasts – either directly or through clothing.
  • Nonconsensual sexual penetration, however slight, of the genitals or anus by a body part of another including the mouth or the use of objects.
  • Forced display of the genitals, anus or breasts for the purpose of sexually arousing another.

Please know that either the person requesting this order, or, the person fighting it may bring a motion to modify or terminate the order. A judge will decide at a hearing whether to grant the motion.


Sexual assault protection orders will specify certain conduct that a person is prohibited from doing. For example, an order might state that a person cannot have contact with the person that filed for the order. Or, it might state that this person cannot visit the other person’s home or work. If an offender engages in conduct that was specifically prohibited under the order, the offender is considered to have violated the order. The offender, however, must have had valid notice of the order for a violation to occur.


Violations of these orders are taken very seriously under Washington law. The result is that penalties for violations are indeed harsh. While ultimate penalties for violations will often depend on the facts of a case, penalties can include years of jail time and substantial fines.

Black Law is well positioned to assist with Washington protection orders – including sexual assault protection orders. Our attorneys can either help clients obtain these orders or they can fight against them. Our firm is well versed in these cases and our attorneys have over twenty years of experience in this area of the law. Contact us today to get real help that makes a difference.

We serve clients throughout Washington including those in the following localities: King County including Bellevue, Kent, and Seattle; Benton County including Kennewick; Chelan County including Wenatchee; Clallam County including Port Angeles; Grays Harbor County including Aberdeen; Kitsap County including Port Orchard; Kittitas County including Ellensburg; Pierce County including Tacoma; Skagit County including Mount Vernon; Snohomish County including Everett; Spokane County including Spokane; Thurston County including Olympia; Whatcom County including Bellingham; and Yakima County including Yakima.

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Black Law PLLC