How to file a Restraining Order
A quick overview of the legal system
The legal system is divided into two areas: civil law and criminal law.
Under civil law, one person sues another for a private wrong. In a civil domestic violence action, you are asking the court to resolve the conflict between you and your abuser. You are not asking the court to punish your abuser for committing a crime. The restraining orders we talk about on this page are under the civil law system.
The criminal law system handles cases that involve crimes such as harassment, assault, murder, stalking, and theft. The police may arrest your abuser and then the district attorney may decide to charge your abuser with a crime. In many cases you can choose whether or not to "press charges," but once someone is arrested, the district attorney is the one who decides whether to charge that person with a crime and how to proceed with it.
Domestic violence cases may involve both civil and criminal action.
What is a Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO)?
A Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO) is a civil court order that is signed by a judge and tells your abuser to stop the abuse or face serious legal consequences. It offers civil legal protection from domestic violence to both women and men victims.
What is the legal definition of domestic violence in CA?
California's Domestic Violence Prevention Act (DVPA) defines domestic violence as threatened or actual abuse from someone with whom you have had a close relationship.
The Domestic Violence Prevention Act is designed to protect you or your children under the age of 18 who live with you from actual or threatened violence, such as:
Attacking, striking, or battering;
Harassing or threatening telephone calls;
Destroying personal property;
Disturbing your peace; and
Threatening to do any of the above.
Under the DVPA, abuse can be physical, sexual, or verbal. It can include spoken and written abuse.
To read the exact wording of the law, please see the definitions section on the CA Legal Statutes page.
Note: If the acts of your abuser do not fit in this definition, you may still be eligible for a Civil Harassment Order.
Am I eligible to file for a DVRO?
You can file for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order if you, or your minor child, have been the victims of domestic violence from:
A spouse or former spouse;
A person you are dating or used to date (it does not have to be an intimate or sexual relationship);
The mother or father of your child;
A person related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption (such as a mother, father, child, brother, sister, grandparent, or in-law);
A person who regularly lives or used to live in your home (but you must have a closer relationship than just roommates).
Minors 12 years old or older can file for restraining orders without the assistance of a parent or guardian. Same-sex partners are also eligible to file for restraining orders.
To read the exact wording of the law, please see the definitions section on the CA Legal Statutes page.
What types of orders are there? How long do they last?
There are three types of Domestic Violence Restraining Orders:
Emergency Protective Order
If a police officer responds to a domestic violence call, the police officer can call a judge (anytime, day or night) and ask for an emergency protective order, which goes into effect immediately.
An emergency protective order can last only five business days or seven calendar days (whichever is shorter). It is supposed to give you time to go to court to ask for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order, which lasts longer.
The emergency protective order can make the other person leave the home, stay away from you, and not see your children, at least on a temporary basis.
Temporary (ex parte) Restraining Order
When you go to court to apply for a restraining order, the clerk will give you a date, usually within three weeks, when you will have to come back to court for a full hearing.
If you are in immediate danger and need protection right away, you can ask for a Temporary (ex parte) Restraining Order, which will last for up to 15 days, or until you have your full-court hearing, which is usually three weeks. You can get this temporary order "ex parte", which means you can get it without your abuser being there.
Restraining Order After Hearing
After having a court hearing, a judge can grant you a Restraining Order After Hearing that can last up to five years. This order is designed to keep your abuser from threatening, harassing, or abusing you. You can ask the court later to have the order extended for another five years, or permanently. The court can make this extension if it believes you have a "reasonable" fear that your abuser will threaten, harass, or abuse you again once the first restraining order expires. Note: There do not need to be new incidences of abuse in order to get the order extended.
How can a DVRO help me?
A Domestic Violence Restraining Order may:
Order the abuser not to assault, threaten, abuse, follow, harass, or interfere with you, your children, or people you live with in person, at work, on the telephone, or by other means;
Order the abuser to stay away from any place you request including your school, your children's school, your work place, your friends' homes, or any place where you are seeking shelter;
Prohibit the abuser from possessing or purchasing a firearm;
Tell the police to remove the abuser from the home and help you to return to the home;
Grant you temporary full control over things that you own together such as a car, a truck, a boat, a computer, tolls, electronic equipment, bank accounts, or household appliances;
Order the abuser to continue to make the loan payments (be sure to specifically ask for this if you need it);
Order the abuser to return your personal belongings;
Order the abuser to pay certain bills, pay back money you lost for missing work or other expenses (such as ambulance, medical, dental, shelter, counseling and/or legal fees);
Order the abuser to pay your attorney fees;
Order the abuser to attend a batterer's treatment program or other counseling service;
Anything else you ask for any the judge agrees to.
If you and your abuser have children together, you may also ask the judge to grant additional things such as:
Child custody and visitation - If you and your abuser have children together, the judge can decide where the children will live, which parent will make decisions affecting the children, and how the children will spend time with each parent (where, when, and whether supervised).
Removal of child - You may ask the judge to keep either or both parents from traveling or moving outside the city, county, area, or state with the children.
Child support payments - You may ask the judge to order your abuser to pay child support according to California’s guidelines.
Whether a judge orders any or all of the above depends on the facts of your case.
How much does it cost? Do I need a lawyer?
There are no fees for filing for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order.
You do not need a lawyer to file for a DVRO. However, you may wish to have a lawyer, especially if your abuser has a lawyer. If you can, contact a lawyer to make sure that your legal rights are protected.
If you cannot afford a lawyer but want one to help you with your case, you can find information on legal assistance on the CA Links & Resources page. Domestic violence organizations in your area also should be able to help you through the legal process and may have lawyer referrals.
What are the steps involved with obtaining a DVRO?
Step 1 - Get the Request. You can file (apply) for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order at the court in the county where your abuser lives or where the abuse happened. Find the civil court clerk, the person who keeps court records and files. Ask him or her for a Request (application) for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order. To find the courthouse in your county, go to CA Courthouse Locations & Info.
Step 2 - Fill out the forms. In the Court Clerk's Office, ask for all the forms you will need to file for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order. You can find links to forms online, and a list of all the forms you may need, at our Download Court Forms page. Be sure to tell the clerk if you think you need protection right away and want a Temporary (ex parte) Restraining Order.
Tips for Filling out Court Forms:
Use the instruction booklet for line-by-line instructions in filling out and filing Domestic Violence Prevention Act (DVPA) forms. The booklet will be market "DV-150". To find online links to these instructions, go to the Download Court Forms page.
Use a typewriter or write neatly to fill out court forms. There are also computer programs you can use that to fill out your DVPA forms. In some counties, you may turn in a handwritten form if your handwriting is easy to read. Ask the clerk of court if you can turn in a handwritten form. (You will find contact numbers for clerks on the CA Courthouse Locations & Info page.)
Keep your court papers safe in a special folder. Be sure you keep a clean copy of all of your court papers. Bring this folder with you every time you go to the clerk's office or to a court hearing.
Ask the clerk if there are any special local rules about the forms you need or about how the forms must be filled out (like paper or ink color) and when you have to tell the person to be restrained that you are asking for a restraining order. (You will find contact numbers for clerks on the CA Courthouse Locations & Info page.)
Step 3 - File completed forms and get a court hearing date. You can file your forms either by mail or in person. Most people choose to file in person, so that nothing gets lost and they can get their orders as soon as possible. If you file by mail, it will take a few extra days, and you must send an extra copy and a stamped, self-addressed envelope so the court clerk can mail you an official (filed) copy of each form.
Only a judge can review applications for or give you a temporary (ex parte) restraining order. The judge may sign the order the same day you ask for it, but if you file in a really busy court or if you file later in the day, the order might not be signed until the next court day. A temporary restraining order will make orders that last from the time you file for your restraining order until your full court hearing.
Whether or not you get a temporary order, the clerk will tell you when to come back for your court hearing, generally about three weeks later. Then the clerk will write down when and where your hearing will be on all of the copies of your court forms. The court clerk will keep the original set of court forms, and give you a photocopied set.
NOTE: You must go to the scheduled court hearing. If you do not go, the judge may dismiss (throw out) your case. If you absolutely cannot go for some reason, call the clerk of court to find out how to get a continuance (this is when the hearing is rescheduled for later) and have the Temporary order "reissued".
Step 4 - Service of process. The law requires that the abuser be given formal notice that you have filed for a restraining order. In fact, the judge cannot make any long-term orders or judgments unless the abuser has been properly personally “served” with copies of your forms. You cannot be the one to give these forms to your abuser. Your forms can be personally served by anyone over 18 years of age who is not involved in your case, such as a friend, a relative, the county sheriff, or a professional process server. (Go to the CA Sheriff Dept. Locations & Info to find out how they can help you serve these papers.)
Whoever serves these forms must give the abuser an easy-to-read copy of all the forms that you filed with the court AND a blank Answer to Temporary Restraining Order. This form is labeled Form DV-120, and the court will give it to you.
You may not have to pay to have the court forms served on your abuser. The sheriff or marshall must serve domestic violence restraining orders for free. Your county may require that you fill out a "fee waiver application" in order to have the sheriff serve the order for free. (Go to CA Sheriff Dept. Locations & Info.) If you hire a professional process server to serve your abuser, you must pay separately for that.
You will also have to fill out a Proof of Service Form, Form DV-140. This form will let the judge know that your abuser got the forms. Once you've filled out your part, give this to the process server with your other forms.
Step 5 - Deadline for serving your abuser. Your abuser has the right to know that you asked for a restraining order against him. He also has the right to respond to what you say in your court papers. In many counties, the court will give you an "order shortening time" which allows you to serve him just 5 days before the hearing. One of your forms - called Application of Order - has a place to ask for this "order shortening time for service" which gives you more time to serve your abuser.
Depending on whether the judge allows you more time to serve the abuser (the court & forms will call him/her the "respondent"), s/he will have anywhere from 10 to 2 days before the hearing to file his/her own form to answer what you said in your forms. This form is called the Responsive Declaration to Order to Show Cause, Form DV-120. If you could not have your abuser served on time, you must file an Reissue Temporary Restraining Order, Form DV-125. This form tells the court that you could not have the abuser served in time and explains why. It asks the court for more time for service. You can also ask the judge to extend any temporary restraining orders until your new hearing date.
Step 6 - Go to your Court Hearing. The judge cannot make a final decision about your restraining order unless you go to the court hearing. You should get there early and bring:
Your copies of all the forms you gave to or got from the court, including the Proof of Service, Form DV-140.
Photos; medical, repair, or other bills; police reports; and other papers that are important to your case. (For any document you want the judge to look at, bring the original and two copies. Give the court clerk or bailiff one copy to give to your abuser.)
Your Proposed Restraining Order After Hearing (CLETS), Form DV-130, and these other forms if you need them:
Other Orders Attachment, Form DV-170;
Child Support Information and Order Attachment, Form DV-160;
Child Custody and Visitation Order Attachment, Form DV-140 and
Supervised Visitation Order, Form DV-150.
If you are asking for child support, meet with the court’s Family Law Facilitator if you can to find out how much child support you should get, and take these documents to court as well:
You last three pay stubs;
Your most recent federal and state tax returns; and
Proof of child care or uninsured health care expenses for the child.
If at all possible, arrange for someone to watch your child while you go to court. Some courthouses have children’s waiting rooms. Call your court clerk to ask, before you go to court.
If your child has important information about the violence or threats, ask an attorney, a victim witness counselor, or the domestic violence counselor about how to have the judge hear from your child.
Step 7 - Check in with Court Personnel. Check in with the clerk or bailiff as soon as you get to court. If the abuser is also at the court, and you are worried about your safety, tell the clerk or bailiff so that they can help you. After you have checked in, take a seat and wait until your case is called. Do not talk to, confront, or argue with the abuser if you see him or her.
Step 8 - Continuance. If you show up to court and your abuser has a lawyer and you do not, you may ask the judge for a "continuance" to set a later court date so you can have time to find a lawyer for yourself. It is up to the judge whether or not to grant your request. The judge can refuse to give you more time to find a lawyer.
Step 9 - Finishing and Filing the Restraining Order After Hearing form. Once the judge has signed the Restraining Order After Hearing form, take all the copies to the clerk's office so they can be stamped and returned to you.
You are entitled to five free "certified copies" from the court clerk. Your order does not have to be certified to be enforced, but in some counties, law enforcement demand a certified copy anyway. You will need one copy of the final court order for each law enforcement agency you want to give the order to, the abuser, your children's school or daycare provider, and others who will help enforce the court order, and two copies for yourself. The court may charge a fee if you need more than five certified copies of your DVPA orders.
If you get confused about exactly what the judge has ordered, you can ask for a copy of the "minute order," which is usually available from the court clerk a few days after the hearing. This information can be helpful. The minute order is what the court clerk writes down as the order the judge made at the hearing. You can also purchase a copy of the transcript from the court reporter, which will include everything that was said during the hearing. (The transcript can be very expensive, so ask for an estimate before requesting one.)
What will I have to prove at the DVRO hearing?
As the person requesting a DVRO, you must:
Prove that the abuser has committed acts of domestic violence (as defined by the law) against you or your children; and
Convince a judge that you need the protection of a DVRO because your safety is at risk.
What should I do before the hearing to prepare my case?
You should take time before your court hearing to plan how you will present your case to the judge.
To get ready:
Talk with an attorney, a domestic violence counselor, or, if there are child support issues, the Family Law Facilitator about the court process:
Go to court to watch other Domestic Violence Restraining Order hearings, especially cases heard by the judge who may hear your case (ask the clerk for a list of times where you can go hear the judge); and
Read all of the court forms for your case.
Contact witnesses who saw the abuse or your injuries.
Anyone can be a witness-- a friend, family member, children, emergency room nurse, doctor, stranger, law enforcement officer, etc. Some witnesses may not come to court unless they are given a subpoena which commands them to appear and testify. Ask the court clerks about subpoena forms. If the people you subpoena do not come to the hearing, let the judge know.
Get evidence to help you prove your case.
Evidence can include:
What you or a witness says in court about the incident(s)
Pictures of your injuries - best if dated
Household objects torn or broken by your abuser
Pictures of your household in disarray after an episode of domestic violence
Tapes of calls you may have made to 911
Certified copies of the abuser’s criminal record
Anything else to help you convince the judge you have suffered acts of domestic violence and need certain relief and protection
The more evidence you have, the greater your chances of being granted a protection order. However, the judge will listen to your story even if you have no paper evidence or witnesses.
Practice telling your story.
You may want to make an outline or notes of the history of violence between you and the defendant. You may take notes to court with you to look at if you forget something, but if you read from them, the judge may order that the defendant be allowed to see them. Tell your story in your own words, but leave out details that have nothing to do with the physical violence or threats of violence.
Also, rather than saying, "He or she hit me," tell the judge how you were hit, where on your body you were hit, and how many times. Be specific.
You may want to mention:
The most recent 2 incidents of violence
The worst 2 incidents of violence
Whether the abuser has a gun or other weapons, and
Whether the abuser has threatened to physically hurt or kill you.
If your abuser responded to your forms with an Answer to Temporary Restraining Order, Form DV-120, you should have received a copy of his or her court forms in the mail. (If you find out at the hearing that your abuser filed an Answer but you did not receive a copy, ask the Judge for a copy of it.) After reading your abuser's forms, think about what questions the judge might ask and decide what other information or witnesses can show that what you say is true. This might include police or medical reports or other official records. If there are witnesses who saw what happened, you can bring them to the hearing and the judge may allow them to tell what they heard or saw. You and the abuser will have to go to mediation if you have children and can’t agree about custody and visitation. You have the right to bring a support person with you to mediation, and you can ask the mediator to meet separately with you (and your support person) without your abuser being there.
What should I do on the day of the hearing?
Be on time.
Be prepared to spend all day in court. (There may be hearings before yours).
Have your evidence there and ready.
Have your witnesses there and ready.
If you have subpoenaed witnesses and they are not present you should inform the judge.
Speak directly to the judge; he or she will understand if you feel nervous.
Always address the judge as “Your Honor.”
If your abuser comes to court with a lawyer and you are not represented, ask the judge for a “continuance” so you can look for a lawyer.
Once your case is called, enter the courtroom and find a seat. It is your right to take another seat if the abuser sits next to you, and to receive help from court staff in keeping the abuser away from you.
Stand when the judge enters and sit when the judge or bailiff asks you to.
Relax and remain calm.
Take deep breaths if you feel yourself getting tense. Never lose your temper in the courtroom.
Always tell the truth.
If you don’t understand a question, just say so.
If you don’t know the answer to a question, just say so. Never make up an answer.
What should I expect if my abuser comes to the hearing?
If your abuser is in court, you should already have a copy of his Responsive Declaration. If he tries to file a Responsive Declaration on the day of your hearing, you can ask the judge for extra time to read the form and get extra information, witnesses, or statements from witnesses to show that your side of the story is true. If the judge gives you extra time, be sure that the judge also makes any temporary restraining orders last until your new court date.
When your case is called, you will be asked to come up to the tables in front of the judge. Then the judge will ask each of you to give your name for the court “record.” The judge usually has only a short time to hear your case and make a decision. Many judges will ask only a few questions to help them understand what has happened. You will be asked to tell your story ("testify") first. If you have statements from witnesses (“declarations”) or documents to show, be sure to give them to the bailiff at the time during the hearing when you think the information will make the most sense. The bailiff will give your documents to the judge
When you have finished telling your side, the judge may let your abuser ask you or any of your witnesses questions about what was said. Do not interrupt either the judge or your abuser when they are talking. Then it is your abuser's turn to tell his side of the story and present witnesses, and to show whatever documents he thinks are important. The judge may let you ask your abuser and his witnesses questions.
At the end of the hearing, the judge will either let you know what s/he decided while you are both still there, or tell you that she/he will decide later (perhaps after looking things over in more detail).
If you get your orders, ask the judge to tell you how long your restraining orders will last, so that you can fill that part in on the Restraining Order After Hearing form. Then, ask the clerk if you may hand your proposed Restraining Order After Hearing form and any attachments, such as the Child Custody and Visitation Order Attachment, to the judge. If the judge gives you all of the orders you asked for, and you filled out the form the right way, the judge will sign and return it. If the judge does not give you or changes some of the orders you asked for, s/he will tell you if you need to fill out a new form. The judge may have a person in the courtroom who can help you fill out the forms.
If you asked for child support, be sure you know:
How much the child support is for each child;
When the child support starts; and
Whether extra amounts are added for child care, uninsured health care costs, or other things.
If this seems confusing, know that you can get help through this process by getting in touch with a domestic violence counselor.
What should I expect if my abuser doesn't come to the hearing?
You abuser does not have to come to the court hearing. If s/he does not come to court, your court hearing will probably be short if you told the court your abuser knew about the hearing by giving the court a Proof of Service form. If you don’t have your Proof of Service form, or you did not get the other person served in time, remember that you can ask the judge to sign an Temporary Restraining Order, Form DV-125, to give you more time to serve him or her. Otherwise, you will have to start all over again. Most judges have a short time available to handle DVPA court hearings. Listen carefully if the judge asks questions, and give only the information that the judge asks for.
When your hearing ends, ask the judge to tell you how long your restraining orders will last, so that you can fill that part in on the Restraining Order After Hearing form (which you will already have started to fill out). Then, ask the clerk if you may hand your Restraining Order After Hearing form and all of the attachments to the judge.
If you asked for child support, be sure you know:
How much the child support is for each child;
When the child support starts; and
Whether extra amounts are added for child care, uninsured health care costs, or other things.
What should I do when I leave the courthouse?
Review the order before you leave the courthouse. If you have ANY questions about it, be sure to ask the judge or clerk.
Make several copies of the restraining order as soon as possible.
Keep a copy of the order with you all of the time.
Leave copies of the order at your work place, at your home, at the children’s school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on.
Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work.
Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
If the court has not given you an extra copy for your local law enforcement agency, take one of your extra copies and deliver it to them.
You may wish to consider changing your locks and your phone number.
If you abuser did not come to the hearing, you must have the papers served on him again. You can do this through the Sheriff's Deptartment.
You may also wish to make a safety plan. Women can do a number of things to increase their safety during violent incidents, when preparing to leave an abusive relationship, and when they are at home, work, and school. Many batterers obey protective orders, but some do not and it is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe.
What if I received Child Support Orders?
If the judge ordered your abuser to pay child support, you will need to fill out and have the judge sign several more forms. You can get free help with all of these forms from the Family Law Facilitator. The forms are called:
Child Support Information and Order Attachment, Form 1296.31B; and
Wage and Earnings Assignment Order, Form 1285.70.
There are two other forms attached as well. You don't need to fill these out - they just tell you some information you should know:
Notice of Rights and Responsibilities—Health Care Costs and Reimbursement Procedures, Form 1285.78; and
Information Sheet on Changing a Child Support Order, Form 1285.79.
The court may also want you to complete a confidential form called the Child Support Case Registry Form, Form 1285.92.
How do I get Child Support through Wage Assignment?
To start collecting child support, send a copy of the Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support , Form UIFSA-5, to the your abuser's employer. You can use the address listed on your abuser's pay stub or W-2 form. (Copies of these should be attached to your abuser's Income and Expense Declaration or Financial Statement).
The Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support tells the abuser's employer how much money to take out of his paycheck and where the money should be sent.
I was not granted a DVRO. What are my options?
If you are not granted a DVRO, there are still some things you can do to stay safe. It might be a good idea to contact one of the domestic violence resource centers in your area to get help, support, and advice on how to stay safe. They can help you develop a safety plan and help connect you with the resources you need.
If you were not granted DVRO because your relationship with the abuser does not qualify, you may be able to seek protection through a Civil Harassment Order.
You may also be able to reapply for a DVRO if you have new evidence to show the court that domestic abuse did occur, or if a new incident of domestic abuse occurs after you are denied the order.
If you believe the judge made an error of law, you can talk to someone at a domestic violence organization or a lawyer about the possibility of an appeal. Generally, appeals are complicated and you will most likely need the help of a lawyer.
What if the abuser violates the order?
Violating a DVRO is against the law. There are 2 ways to get help if your abuser violates the DVRO.
Through the Police or Sheriff (Criminal)
If the defendant violates the DVRO, call 911 immediately. In some cases, the defendant can be arrested right away. Tell the officers you have a DVRO and the defendant is violating it. Always have both a certified copy (that you got from the court clerk) of your Restraining Order After Hearing (CLETS), Form DV-130 (with any attachments) and your filed copy of the Proof of Service, showing that the abuser was served with the Restraining Order After Hearing (Form DV-140) with you at all times.
If the abuser is arrested and criminal charges are filed, you may be asked to go to court to tell what happened. It may be several weeks or months before the criminal case is called and you are asked to tell about what happened. It will be easier to remember things for your hearing if you write down everything that happened just as soon as you can after things calm down.
Through the Courts (Civil)
You may file for civil contempt for a violation of the order. The abuser is in "civil contempt" if he or she does anything that your DVRO orders him or her not to do. To file for civil contempt, go to the clerk's office.
If your abuser does not follow other parts of the order (such as child support or property control), you can also contact the Family Law Facilitator, the family support office of the district attorney, or a private attorney for more information on how to enforce the order.
How do I change or extend my order?
If you want your restraining order to last longer, you need to ask the court one to two months before your order expires to make sure that you will have your hearing before the order end. The court can make your Domestic Violence Restraining Order last for three more years or permanently with no expiration date, if the judge believes that you have a reasonable fear your abuser will become abusive again after the order expires.
You will need to fill out a Request to Renew Restraining Order from (Form DV-700), and a Notice of Hearing to Renew Restraining Order form (DV-710). The district attorney, the court clerk, a private attorney, or a domestic violence counselor should have the forms you will need to have your order continue.
What happens if I move?
If you move within California, your order will still be valid and good. It is a good idea to call the Clerk to change your address.
Additionally, the federal law provides what is called "Full Faith and Credit," which means that once you have a criminal or civil protection order, it follows you wherever you go, including U.S. Territories and tribal lands. Different states have different rules for enforcing out-of-state restraining orders. You can find out about your state’s policies by contacting a domestic violence program, the clerk of courts, or the district attorney in your area.
If you are moving out of state, you should call the battered women’s program in the state where you are going to find out how that state treats out-of-state orders.
If you are moving to a new state, you may also call the National Center on Full Faith and Credit (1-800-903-0111) for information on enforcing your order there.
Note: Civil restraining orders may not be enforceable on military bases, and military restraining orders may not be enforceable off base. Please check with your local police department, court clerk, and/or domestic violence advocate for more details
What is the legal definition of harassment in CA?
The Code of Civil Procedure law on Civil Harassment Orders (Section 527.6) defines harassment as:
a credible threat of violence; or
a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person that seriously alarms, annoys, or harasses the person, and that serves no legitimate purpose.
The course of conduct must be such as would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, and must actually cause substantial emotional distress to the plaintiff.
What is an Injunction Prohibiting Harassment or Civil Harassment Order (CHO)?
"Injunction" is another word for a restraining order. In California, a person who has been harassed by someone with whom they have not had a relationship (such as an acquaintance, co-worker, neighbor, or stranger) may ask the court for a "Civil Harassment Order" restraining order prohibiting further abuse and harassment.
This means that a judge can order that person to stop harassing you and to stay away from you. You may receive a temporary order, which will last until you can have a full court hearing, and a final order, which will last up to three years.
Am I eligible to file for a Civil Harassment Order?
Any person who has suffered harassment or stalking as defined by CA law can apply to the court for a Civil Harassment Order. It does not matter who the person harassing you is. It can be a stranger or someone you know.