Sexual Assault Protection Order (SAPO)
A Sexual Assault Protection Order (SAPO) is a civil order of protection issued by the Superior or District Court in Washington State on behalf of a person who has accused another of Sexual Assault. The order generally requires the accused person (Respondent) to stay away from the accuser (Petitioner). The accuser (Petitioner) must prove to the court by a "preponderance of the evidence" that they have been sexually assaulted.
Sexual Assault Protection Order hearings are decided by judges and not juries. There is no right to a jury trial if you have a protection order filed against you. This means that the judge has total decision making authority as to weather or not to issue an order of protection.
Definition of Sexual Assault
a. Nonconsensual sexual touching or fondling of the genitals; anus or breasts (inside or outside of clothing).
b. Nonconsensual sexual penetration.
c. Forced display of the genitals for the purposes of sexually arousing another.
Definition of Consent
Under RCW 9A.44.010(7) Consent is defined as:
(7) "Consent" means that at the time of the act of sexual intercourse or sexual contact there are actual words or conduct indicating freely given agreement to have sexual intercourse or sexual contact.
Sexual Assault Protection Orders & Background Checks
Sexual Assault Protection Orders (SAPO's) are not criminal in nature. However, practical problems arise when a employer, potential employer or housing provider find a Sexual Assault Protection Order when performing a background check. In many cases the party performing the background check erroneously believes that a crime has been committed or that the job or housing applicant is a sex offender. Therefore, if you have a Sexual Assault Protection Order (SAPO) issued against you it can preclude employment or housing for years to come.
Sexual Assault Protection Orders & Criminal Charges
Sexual Assault Protection Orders are often filed BEFORE criminal charges because the process. Therefore, the outcome of a Sexual Assault Protection Order hearing may impact the possibility of criminal charges. If you decide to testify in a court hearing then that court record could possibly be used against you in the future.