WHAT IS A CIVIL HARASSMENT RESTRAINING ORDER?
Civil harassment is defined as abuse by someone you don't have a close relationship with. The abuse can range from simple threats, to serious harassment and includes stalking and sexual abuse or harassment. Civil harassment can be inflicted by a neighbor, a roommate, friend, co-worker, acquaintance, or anyone you come into contact with on a regular basis but aren't close with. Civil harassment can also occur at the hands of a family member, but only where it doesn't equate to domestic violence. For example, when the abuse is from a family member you aren't living with and who isn't your spouse, partner, someone who you've had a romantic involvement with or who you co-parent with.
California Code of Civil Procedure §527.6 governs civil harassment, defining it as:
Unlawful violence, like assault or battery or stalking, OR
- A credible threat of violence, AND
- The violence or threats seriously scare, annoy, or harass someone and there is no valid reason for it.
A “credible threat of violence” is saying something or engaging in behavior that would make a reasonable person afraid for their safety or the safety of their family. A civil harassment order is an order from the court that puts protections in place for people and their family when they are experiencing such harassment from someone.
You may want to request a civil harassment order if:
- You have been abused or threatened with abuse, sexually assaulted, stalked, or seriously harassed, AND
- You are scared, seriously annoyed or harassed.
A restraining order can prevent the restrained party from contacting you or anyone in your household via phone, in person, or through a third party. It orders the person to stay away from you and your home completely, away from your work or your child's school, and not to be in possession of any firearms. If the restrained person violates these orders, it can result in a criminal action against them.
The person you want to restrain CANNOT be your spouse/partner, former spouse/partner, someone you dated at any point, OR a close relative. If you feel you need protection from a person who meets those criteria, you may seek a domestic violence restraining order.
The person you want to restrain CAN be a neighbor, a roommate, a friend, a family member you are not closely related to, a co-worker, or other acquaintance. If you are 65 or older or a dependent adult, you can file a civil harassment restraining order, or you may decide to seek an elder or dependent adult abuse restraining order. A dependent adult abuse restraining order may provide you with more assistance during the court process and thus is often preferable.
CONTACT US TODAY
The attorneys at Wilber Law Offices are experienced in handling restraining orders of all kinds. Whether you need a restraining order filed for your protection, or one has been filed against you and you need assistance defending yourself, CALL US AT (707) 527-3451. We can help you figure out your next steps.
HOW DO I DEFEND MYSELF AGAINST A CIVIL HARASSMENT RESTRAINING ORDER?
Civil harassment orders are a specialized area of law. If a civil harassment order has been filed against you, it is critical not to disregard it! Restraining orders have undesirable consequences for the restrained party. They will show up on background checks, be visible to law enforcement if you are pulled over or have other police contact, and they will prohibit you from owning or possessing any firearms.
Restraining orders can be filed against you for a variety of accusations, not only physical violence. Stalking, harassing, threatening, or sexual abuse/harassment are also valid reasons someone might prevail in their request to have you restrained. You need the assistance of an experienced and skilled civil harassment attorney to help you navigate the system and ensure your voice is heard.
Contact our office right away if you find yourself in this situation. The stakes are high and your accuser is busy building a case against you. You want a qualified lawyer in your court as well so that you can fight back!
Free consultations available. Call (707) 527-3451
TYPES OF CIVIL HARASSMENT RESTRAINING ORDERS
EPO (Emergency Protective Order)
An EPO is a restraining order typically requested by law enforcement if you call the police for help and they feel it is appropriate. The police officer will seek this type of protection for you by calling the “on call” judge, who is available 24 hours a day for this purpose. EPOs, if the judge grants them, remain in effect for only seven days. They are meant to protect you for a short time, just enough time for you to go to court and file for a more lasting restraining order. If you do not file for a temporary restraining order, the order will simply expire after the seven days and you will be without further protection.
(CPO) Criminal Protective Order
Criminal Protective Orders are often put in place when there is a criminal case pending against the person who allegedly committed the abuse, violence, threats, or other form of harassment amounting to a crime. The criminal court, at the prosecution's request, will issue a Criminal Protective Order against the accused which will remain in effect for the duration of the criminal case and potentially after the case is closed if there is a conviction. Post-conviction the orders can be three years or up to ten years, depending on the circumstances.
(TRO) Temporary Restraining Order
A temporary restraining order is similar to an EPO, but last much longer. The EPO buys you time to obtain a TRO, but whether you have an EPO in place or not, the procedure for seeking a TRO is the same. Forms are available at the courthouse for you to fill out, explaining to the judge what has happened that substantiates your need for protection. The judge, if he/she finds sufficient cause for a potential restraining order exists, will set a date for a hearing on the issue. In the meantime, however, you will be granted a TRO to protect you until the hearing takes place.
Permanent Restraining Orders/Restraining Orders After Hearing
A Permanent Restraining Order is a restraining order that is granted after a hearing. The accused party may defend him/herself against the allegations made by the person seeking the order and the judge will make a ruling either granting or denying the request for the restraining order. The title “permanent” is a bit misleading, since the orders typically last for three years. However, they can be renewed before they expire. Each time they are up for renewal, both parties have another chance to be heard.