The laws governing restraining orders vary from state to state, but most states have a procedure by which a citizen can apply to the court to get protection from harassment, including phone harassment. Most states have created a procedure that is simple enough for a lay person to navigate without the assistance of an attorney, but it never hurts to seek legal advice before pursuing a remedy from the court.
Keep Detailed Records
To obtain a restraining order, you will need to show the court that you are being harassed, threatened or intimidated. To prove this, you will have to present evidence that the phone calls are excessive, unwanted and threatening in nature. It will help if you keep a log that indicates the time of the phone call, the subject matter and the language used.
Contact the Clerk's Office
Once you have gathered evidence that you are being harassed by phone, contact the clerk's office at your local courthouse. Ask about the procedures for obtaining a restraining order. In most states, you will go to the clerk's office, or to a court commissioner, and make a statement under oath. You will be asked to provide the name and address of the person harassing you and to describe the harassment. Be sure to detail your allegations and supply the information that you gathered by keeping track of the phone calls. The allegations you make at this stage of the process are the ones that the person calling you will have to defend against if this matter goes to court.
Serve the Court Papers
To obtain a restraining order, you will serve the court papers on the person harassing you. In most states, you will not be permitted to serve them yourself. You can have the sheriff's office serve them, usually for a fee. The matter cannot go to trial, and you will not be able to receive long-term protection, until the person harassing you is served with the notice. If you are unable to afford the fees associated with making and serving a restraining order application, be sure to ask the clerk's office if there are any organizations that may be able to help you.
Prepare for your Hearing
The next step in the process will be a hearing where you will have to convince a judge that you are being harassed. Think about what you will say. The judge likely will ask you when the harassment started, the nature of the harassment and whether you expect it to continue. Be sure to provide the judge with all the information you have so that there will be ample evidence upon which the judge can base her ruling.
Enforce your Order
If you are successful in obtaining a restraining order, you will have to contact the police every time the person harassing you violates the order. It is important you do this to protect your rights, because a court may find that you consented to the violation if you ignore it.
You can ask for a restraining order if someone has seriously harassed you over the telephone. You'll have to file court forms telling the judge what orders you want and why.
- If you are unable to afford the fees associated with obtaining a restraining order, be sure to ask the clerk's office if there are any organizations that may be able to help you.
K. Lynn Wallace attended the University of the Arts and University of Baltimore Law school and is now an attorney in Maryland. She has a general litigation practice and has been a writer since 2009. She has served on the editorial board of the "University of Baltimore Intellectual Property Journal."