To file a request for a restraining order you must contact the district attorney’s office in your city or county. You can make your appeal directly if you prefer but you can also hire a criminal defense to file the necessary papers for you.
Before the restraining order can be issued you will have to provide evidence to support your claims. However, a sworn statement from the victim is usually sufficient to convince a judge to issue a temporary restraining order, which goes into effect immediately. After the accused person has been notified a courtroom hearing will be held to determine if the temporary restraining order should be upgraded to something more substantial.
During this hearing you will be asked to offer more substantial evidence to back up your claims of harassment or victimization. Acceptable forms of proof could include police statements, medical records, corroborating eyewitness or ear-witness testimony, video or audio recordings, evidence of damage to private property or written threats in the form of emails, text messages, social media posts or handwritten letters.
In order to have the restraining order extended you won’t have to prove “guilt beyond a reasonable doubt” as would be required in a conventional criminal case. The standard used here is called “the preponderance of the evidence,” which means you will have to persuade the judge that your allegations of abuse are more likely to be true than false.
If the judge finds in your favor the status of the restraining order will change from temporary to permanent. Despite the name a permanent order usually expires after a certain period of time, most likely from two to 10 years. However, should you have a change of heart you can have the restraining order lifted at any time.
Making the Law Work for You
There is of course no guarantee that a person subject to a restraining order will obey it. But once it has been issued, in either temporary or permanent form, it is the duty of the police to see that it is enforced. If the perpetrator violates the order you can have him or her arrested. Charges will be filed, a trial will be held and if your tormentor is found guilty a prison term may be the final result.
A restraining order is not a perfect solution. But if you have been victimized by a toxic person a restraining order can help restore your sense of security and give you at least some peace of mind.
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