Family law litigation often involves the need for protection of property or from the other party. There are several different types of protection and restraining orders, including a general Restraining Order, Domestic Violence Protection Order, Sexual Assault Protection Order and Anti-Harassment Protection Order. Much of the protections available to litigants seeking general Restraining or Domestic Violence Protection Orders are also available to persons seeking an Anti-Harassment Protection Order.
By statutory definition unlawful harassment means a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person which seriously alarms, annoys, harasses, or is detrimental to such person, and which serves no legitimate or lawful purpose. Such conduct would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, or when the course of conduct would cause a reasonable parent to fear for the well-being of their child.
Anti-Harassment Protection Orders tell the abuser to stop harassing you. Unlike general Restraining Orders or Domestic Violence Protection Orders, a victim does not have to have any specific type of relationship with the abuser. The abuser can be a neighbor, acquaintance, co-worker, etc. Therefore, if the victim does not meet the requirements to obtain a general Restraining Order or Domestic Violence Protection Order due to the relationship (i.e., spouse or intimate partner) with the abuser or due to the fact that the harassment doesn't meet the definition of domestic violence, the victim may be able to file for an Anti-Harassment Protection Order instead.
When a victim of unlawful harassment seeks protective relief from the Court, they need to be as specific as possible about how the abuser has engaged in harassing behavior and the harmful effects on the victim. The unlawful harassment complained of cannot be a single incident, but a course of conduct (i.e., a series of acts).
In emergency situations, an ex parte temporary Anti-Harassment Protection Order is necessary. Such an order is often granted upon a showing of reasonable proof of unlawful harassment, and that severe or permanent harm will happen to the victim if the Order is not issued right away. This temporary protection order will be effective immediately, and the offending party does not have to be in the Courtroom at this hearing. A temporary Anti-Harassment Protection Order will typically last fourteen (14) days at which time a full hearing will be had. At a full hearing, the offending party will have an opportunity to be present and provide a defense against the allegations. Both sides will be able to present evidence and provide testimony.
Upon a full hearing, an Anti-Harassment Protection Order will generally last for one year unless the court finds that the abuser is likely to continue the unlawful harassment when the Order expires. In such a case, the Court can make the order for a fixed (specific) amount of time or even make it permanent.
There are limitations upon what the Court can do when granting an Anti-Harassment Protection Order. For example, the Order cannot prevent the abuser from exercising constitutionally protected free speech. However, the Court can enter an Order which prohibits the abuser from contacting the victim or keeping the victim under surveillance, and/or set forth a distance requirement to keep the abuser away from the victim's home or workplace.
An experienced attorney sensitive to what are often embarrassing issues associated with unlawful harassment can be of great assistance in seeking relief in a Anti-Harassment Protection Order.
Family law litigation can be emotionally difficult and complex. Decisions made about each step of the litigation can affect you for many years. We have years of experience helping our clients through the difficulty of protection orders and can help you through the process. Contact us today at (253) 838 – 3377 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org, to talk about your situation.
Disclaimer: All materials provided on this website have been prepared by Bains Law Firm for general information purposes only and no representation is made as to their completeness or accuracy. Information on this website is not intended as legal advice, and may not be relied upon as such. Only an attorney who can review the unique facts of each case and apply them to the statutes, case law and court rules can provide legal advice. Nothing in this website shall be construed to create an attorney-client relationship.
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