Harassment and Restraining Orders
If you have been the victim of stalking, harassment, or violence, you may petition the court for a Harassment Restraining Order (HRO) or an Order for Protection (OFP). Generally a judge will issue a HRO when a petitioner has been the victim of repeated harassment, such as annoying or threatening phone calls or unwanted visits to the residence or place of employment by another person who may be unrelated to the petitioner. For a petitioner trying to flee the violence and intimidation of a household or family member, a judge will issue an OFP when the petitioner is the victim of violence, threats or assault. For example, if you are the victim of domestic assault by your fiancé, the court may issue an OFP to keep your fiancé away from you and your children. If a nasty neighbor won’t stop leaving you mean messages, it’s time to ask the court for a HRO.
How do I get one of these orders?
With help from your attorney, you may petition the court for protection. This involves filling out paperwork , talking with a judge, and telling the judge just what kind of harassment or violence to which you’ve been subjected. If a judge decides to issue the order, it will be temporary for 7 days. The respondent (person from whom you are seeking protection) must be notified of the temporary order. Within 7 days, a hearing will be set, and you will be obligated to appear for that hearing if you want the order to go into effect for at least one, up to two years. The respondent must show up at that hearing if he/she wants to contest the order. If the respondent does not appear for the hearing, generally a judge will issue the order for the petitioner.
What happens if the respondent contests the order?
The judge will listen to each side and make the determination whether the order will be put into place on a more permanent basis. Sometimes the judge will compromise as to the terms of the order; the court can specify special visitation for parenting time, or can limit contact to only phone conversations for example. Don’t panic if the respondent shows up. It’s their right to contest an order that may prevent them from exercising their freedom in seeing or talking to you. Just because the respondent shows, doesn’t mean that the order will be dropped.
What happens if I get this order issued and then the respondent still contacts me?
Then you call the police, and the respondent will be arrested for violating the order and charged with a crime. Violation of Order for Protection is an enhanceable offense, and violation of the order can land him/her in jail.
What happens if I want to drop the order?
Then you go back into court and ask the judge to drop the order. The judge will ask you many questions about why you want to drop the order, but if he/she is convinced that you are no longer in danger, they may lift the order.
Can Catherine help me get an OFP or HRO?
Yes she can. Call her right away.
Can you help me if there has been an OFP or HRO issued against me?
Yes she can. Call her right away so you are represented at the hearing.