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California’s Civil-Harassment Restraining Order

Last week it was the domestic-violence restraining order, or DVRO.

This week it’s the other main type of restraining order: the civil-harassment restraining order.

It can help protect you from everyone else in life: from perfect strangers to people outside your immediate family or dating history. That can be a friend, a neighbor, a roommate, a coworker, or a relative who’s not your parent, child, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, or in-law.

Like DVROs, civil-harassment restraining orders apply if someone harms you physically; makes you reasonably afraid that they’re going to; or stalks or harasses you in person, online, or otherwise, and they won’t stop. The court can order them to stay away from you and your home, work, or school; to not attempt to contact you in any way; and to surrender any guns they may have.

Unlike DVROs, however, you must prove your case by clear and convincing evidence. So you have a higher burden of proof.

When you file, the court may grant a temporary order that lasts for approximately three weeks until the hearing. If you don’t have a lawyer, you’ll want to bring everything you have to prove your case to the hearing.

After the hearing, the court can extend the order for up to five years. There’s no filing fee if the other person has used violence against you, threatened violence against you, or stalked you. Otherwise, you will have to pay to file and serve the paperwork unless you qualify for a fee waiver.

If the other person doesn’t obey the order, they go to jail. Once granted, the order is uploaded to a database that’s accessible to law enforcement across the state.

For more information, here’s a helpful guide from the California courts. And for all the various forms you may need, scroll through here. They have them in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese.

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