How to Obtain a Restraining Order – A Step-by-Step Guide

In the journey toward healing and safety, obtaining a restraining order can be a critical step for victims of harassment, stalking, or abuse. At Justice 4 Crime Victims, California’s leading law firm for victims’ rights, we understand the complexities and emotional toll involved in seeking legal protection.

This guide provides detailed, step-by-step instructions to help you navigate the process of obtaining a restraining order in California, ensuring you are protected and empowered throughout.

Step 1: Understand the Types of Restraining Orders

California law provides several types of restraining orders, each tailored to different situations:

– Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO): For victims of abuse from someone with whom they have a close relationship (e.g., spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, or someone with whom the victim has a child).

– Civil Harassment Restraining Order (CHRO): For protection from someone not closely related, such as neighbors, roommates, or more distant family members.

– Workplace Violence Restraining Order: Requested by employers to protect employees from violence, stalking, or harassment at work.

– Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse Restraining Order: For elders or dependent adults who are victims of abuse.

Step 2: Fill Out the Required Forms

The first legal step in obtaining a restraining order is to complete the necessary forms. These forms are available online at the California Courts website or at your local courthouse. The primary form is the “Request for Domestic Violence Restraining Order” (Form DV-100) for DVROs or the “Request for Civil Harassment Restraining Orders” (Form CH-100) for CHROs, along with any other forms that may apply to your situation.

Step 3: File Your Forms with the Court

Once your forms are filled out, file them with the court clerk at your local courthouse. There is no fee to file for a restraining order. After filing, the clerk will schedule a court date for a hearing, usually within a few weeks. In urgent cases, you may request a temporary restraining order (TRO) that can be issued immediately and last until your hearing date.

Step 4: Serve the Restraining Order

For the restraining order to be legally effective, the person you are seeking protection from (the respondent) must be formally notified of the order. This process is called “service” and must be done by someone over 18 who is not protected by the order. Law enforcement agencies can also serve orders free of charge. Remember, you cannot serve the order yourself.

Step 5: Prepare for Your Court Hearing

Gather any evidence that supports your case, such as text messages, emails, photographs of injuries, or witness statements. Consider what you will say to the judge. You might also consult with an attorney who can represent you and help present your case more effectively.

Step 6: Attend Your Court Hearing

On the day of your hearing, arrive early and bring all your documentation and evidence. During the hearing, you will have the opportunity to explain why you need the restraining order. The respondent will also have a chance to speak. After considering the evidence, the judge will decide whether to grant a permanent restraining order, which can last up to five years.

Step 7: After the Hearing

If the judge grants the restraining order, ensure you obtain a copy of the order before you leave the courthouse. Keep a copy with you at all times. If the respondent violates the restraining order, contact the police immediately.

Let Justice 4 Crime Victims Help

Seeking a restraining order can be a daunting process, but it’s an important step toward ensuring your safety and peace of mind. At Justice 4 Crime Victims, we’re committed to guiding you through every step of this process with compassion and expertise. Remember, you are not alone. If you need assistance or have questions about obtaining a restraining order in California, our team is here to help.

For more information or to seek legal assistance, contact us by calling 949-585-9055 at Justice 4 Crime Victims. Your safety and justice are our priority.