A restraining order is literally a piece of paper signed by a judge to order an individual to abide by certain conditions. Restraining orders offer legal protection for victims of harassment, stalking, domestic abuse and neighborhood disputes. Unfortunately there is no such thing as a restraining order “for any situation.” In this case you might be looking for a “no contact” order in which the offender is not allowed to contact you in any way. In civil cases the court decides on the extent and duration of the restriction. In criminal cases, where you as victim are filing criminal charges against the offender, a “no contact” protective order may be issued, but only until the sentence has been filed.
Complete the forms at the court clerk’s office. If you are filing criminal charges, you need to be at the district attorney’s office. Be very thorough when completing the forms. Try to remember all incidents as correctly as possible and describe them in such a way that the court will realize you might be in immediate danger. Keep the content focused on violence or serious threats of violence. You are asking the judge to restrict another person’s freedom and he is not going to do that on charges of lying, sleeping around, partying, swearing, drinking or acting foolishly. The law only allows the court to restrict the person’s freedom on charges of violence. Mention it in the forms if the person in question possesses guns.
Complete an application for custody over your children if you are applying for a restraining order against the other parent.
Submit the completed forms to the court clerk, who will give it to a judge and supply you with a time for the temporary hearing. This hearing is often scheduled on the same day. If the courts are closed, the district court commissioner may issue a temporary restraining order to protect you immediately.
Appear for the temporary hearing. You will be asked to answer questions under oath. The judge might grant an immediate temporary restraining order, in which case the clerk will give you a certified copy of this order. The clerk will also fax the order through to the police department in your area, as well as the area where your abuser lives and give you a date and time for the final hearing.
Serve your abuser with the order. Contact a marshal to serve the court papers to the abusive person at least five days before the hearing.
Prepare for the final hearing. Decide how you are going to convince the court you are in danger and the restraining order should be extended. Call on witnesses if you know anybody who has witnessed the abuse. Prepare evidence such as bank statements, police reports or medical records. Apply for subpoenas to be delivered by the marshal to request witnesses to attend the hearing.
Attend the hearing and plead your case. Be there at least 15 minutes early and do not bring your children. Dress neatly and appropriately as you want to make a good impression. If the case is against your ex spouse, do not bring a new partner to the court as this may complicate matters. If the restraining order is not granted, hire an attorney to help you appeal and start the process again.
Enforce the restraining order. Do not contact the abuser and call the police immediately if the abuser violates any stipulations of the restraining order. Follow any court orders regarding your children.
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