Civil Harassment Orders, commonly called “Restraining Orders,” are available to stop harassment in a variety of situations. At times, one party to a Family Law case, Child Custody dispute or even a Small Claims matter feels that the other party is engaging in harassing conduct.
California Code of Civil Procedure Section 527.6 allows anyone who has suffered harassment to seek application for a temporary restraining order and an injunction prohibiting future harassment. “Harassment” can include: unlawful violence, threats of violence, or a “knowing and willful course of conduct…that seriously alarms, annoys, or harasses” a person. In court, the person applying for the order must show that the conduct would cause a reasonable person substantial emotional distress and actually caused substantial emotional distress. Witness statements and records of harassing contacts, such as copies of email, text and voice messages often support the application.
An application can be filed by the person seeking the order, or by an attorney. However, a third party, usually the Sheriff’s Department or other law enforcement agency must serve the application for a Civil Harassment Order on the defendant.
Anyone ordered to comply with a Civil Harassment Order must surrender any firearms and is prohibited from owning or possessing firearms. Further, once a permanent restraining order is in place, a violation of the order is reportable to law enforcement for investigation and punishable as a crime.
Julie Anne Swain