Reforming the protection order process


Category: Legal Advocacy, Policy

Type: Blog, Legislative News, WA Legislative News

During the 2017 legislative session, we prioritized amending the Sexual Assault Protection Order (SAPO) Act in Washington state to better support and protect survivors of sexual assault. With your help, and the help of other advocates, survivors, lawmakers, and like-minded organizations, this commonsense, victim-focused reform was successfully passed.

What does this historic reform mean for survivors of sexual assault?

• SAPOs are no longer limited to two years. Judges can decide on the length of each protection order, which means victims no longer have to return to court every two years for the purpose of securing safety.

• The burden of proof is placed on the offender, rather than the victim. The court can now grant the motion for the renewal of these protection orders unless the respondent (offender) proves by a preponderance of evidence that circumstances have changed to show they’re not likely to engage in contact with the victim when the order expires.

• The process for moderating or terminating a SAPO has been clarified. The new process states that the respondent must establish adequate cause for a hearing to make a change to the SAPO. The respondent is limited to filing one motion to an existing SAPO in every 12-month period it’s in effect.
This change in the law has been several years in the making, and protects victims from having to relive the trauma of the assault every two years in court to keep a SAPO in place.

Thank you for your continued advocacy and work on making this change a reality, and a particular thank you to Cali Knox, who shared her story with the House Judiciary Committee.

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