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    If you are in danger and need help immediately, call 911.

    Civil harassment is abuse, threats, stalking, or serious harassment by someone you have not dated or had a close relationship with. This can be a neighbor, roommate, or even a friend. Civil harassment can also come from family members such as uncles or aunts, cousins, or nieces or nephews. In general, a civil harassment restraining order will protect someone from threats or abuse by another party. The order will provide a legal basis for preventing any contact with your abuser. If your abuser violates the restraining order, you could have cause to pursue criminal charges.

    How Do I Qualify for a Civil Harassment Restraining Order?

    According to California Courts, civil harassment laws state “harassment” is:

    • Unlawful violence such as stalking, assault, or battery
    • A real threat of violence (i.e.: death threats or threats against pets or family)
    • The violence or threats are frightening for the victim
    • There is no valid reason for the violence or threats (i.e.: self-defense).

    If any of these areas are met, you could receive a civil harassment restraining order. The order will help protect you – the protected person — from violence, stalking, serious harassment, or threats of violence. Your abuser is identifies as the restrained person. The order will protect you from contact by the restrained as well as close contact with the abuser or their family to ensure the abuser does not send others to make contact. It also offers protection for your place of work or school.

    Types of Civil Harassment Restraining Orders

    There are three types of restraining orders: Emergency Protective Order (ERO), Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), and Permanent Restraining Order (PRO). A judge will only grant an ERO when called by a police officer in cases involving stalking or other immediately dangerous situations. A TRO lasts anywhere between 20-25 days. This order requires paperwork explaining everything that happened and why the order is necessary. Despite “permanent” in the PRO name, it only lasts around five years. Like a TRO, PROs require the filing of paperwork describing the situation.

    Filing a Civil Harassment Restraining Order

    If a civil harassment restraining order is necessary, filing requirements vary from state to state but the process remains similar. First, the victim will file court forms requesting the restraining order. Then the judge will decide whether to grant the order based off their review of the documents. If the judge grants the order, he or she will also grant a TRO that lasts until the official court date. The abuser will be served with all copies of the documents by someone over 18 who is not involved in the case. Once paperwork is served, both parties will go to the court hearing and await the judge’s final decision. More information on this process or help can be found here.