Harassment Restraining Orders
What is a harassment restraining order?
What’s the difference between a harassment order
and an order for protection?
For answers to these questions and more, read the information provided.
What is a Harassment Restraining Order (HRO)?
A Harassment Restraining Order (HRO) is a court order that will help protect you from harassment/threats by another individual or by organizations that promote harassment. A HRO tells the respondent (harasser) to cease or avoid the harassment of another person and/or to have no contact with that person.
Who May File and HRO?
• The victim of harassment
• Parent, guardian or stepparent of the minor who is a victim may file on behalf of the minor.
What is Harassment?
• A single incident of physical or sexual assault.
• Repeated incidents of intrusive or unwanted acts, words, or gestures that have a substantial adverse effect or are intended to have a substantial adverse effect on the safety, security, or privacy of another, regardless of the relationship between you and the alleged harasser.
• Targeted residential picketing, which includes:
- marching, standing, or patrolling by one or more persons directed solely at a particular residential building in a manner that adversely affects the safety, security, or privacy of an occupant of the building, and
- marching, standing, or patrolling by one or more persons which prevents an occupant of a residential building from graining access to or exiting from the property on which the residential building is located.
• A pattern of attending public events after being notified that one’s presence at the event is harassing to another.
What is the difference between an OFP and HRO?
The OFP is sometimes called a restraining order but it is not the same thing as a HRO. A HRO can be obtained against anyone in a harassing situation. An OFP can only be obtained by people in a current or past relationship or if they are related to each other.
Is there a fee to file a HRO?
There is a fee to file a HRO; the filing fee varies in each county. The filing fees are waived if the petition alleges a criminal act of harassment or criminal sexual conduct (sexual assault). If you are low income, you may request that the filing fees be waived by filling out the forms called informa pauperis.
How do I get a HRO?
Go to the courthouse and to Court Administration for the forms. If you would like assistance in completing the forms or have questions on the process contact 1-800-477-0466, or you may ask the Court Administrator’s Office for an advocate.
What happens after you file the HRO with Court Administration?
• The Judge will review the HRO and will either grant or deny it. If the order is denied, you do have the right to request a court hearing. If the HRO is granted, the respondent has the right to ask for a court hearing within 45 days of being served with the petition.
• If a hearing is scheduled, you need to attend the hearing. If you do not attend the hearing, the HRO most likely will be dismissed. If the respondent does not attend, the HRO may be automatically granted by the Judge. If you would like an advocate to be with you at the court hearing; ask Court Administration to notify an advocate. When going to court, be prepared to present your case; bring any witnesses and documents along to support your case.
• The respondent needs to be served personally with a copy of the HRO for it to be in effect. You need to bring the address of the respondent along with you when filing the HRO so that law enforcement can find the respondent and serve him/her. It is not Court Administration’s responsibility to find the address. If the respondent can’t be found, Court Administration can assist you in serving the respondent by publication. You may be charged a fee to have notice served by publication.
• An HRO is a civil matter; an attorney will not be appointed by the Court. You do have the right to hire an attorney on your own. If you can not afford an attorney, contact Legal Aid at 1-888-575-2954. If they are not able to help you, they may be able to refer you another attorney.
What happens after the HRO is granted?
• The HRO can be granted for up to two years. Within that time it can be changed or modified depending on the circumstances. Any time you want to change something, you need to file a motion for modification with the court and a hearing may be scheduled, which you need to attend. You can also ask the Court to dismiss the HRO at any time. All of the requests are subject to the Court’s approval and may or may not be granted.
• If you change your address, notify Court Administration so that they can provide copies of the HRO to the law enforcement in your new location.
• Unless dismissed earlier, the HRO will automatically expire on the date and time listed on the Order; you can not renew the HRO. If the harassment starts again, you can apply to the Court for another HRO.
• Keep a copy of the HRO with you at all times in case law enforcement needs to view it for verification. If you are excluding the respondent from your place of employment, you should also notify your human resource department so they can take precautions to ensure your safety while at work.
What happens if the HRO is violated?
Contact law enforcement and report the incident but also keep a log/record of your own listing the date, time, witnesses, and what happened or what was said.
When you report a violation, do not assume that the respondent will be picked up and put in jail. Depending on the type of incident reported, law enforcement may not arrest immediately. Just because they are not put in jail, does not mean that they will not be charged with a violation. It is important to continue reporting each incident every time and to keep track of them in your own log.
Once a violation is charged, it is considered a criminal matter and each offense can be enhanced, which means the penalties get more severe.
What happens if you and the respondent (harasser) meet in a public place?
If you get a HRO, it is not an automatic violation if you and the harasser are in a public place at the same time. As long as the respondent does not make an attempt to contact you there is no violation. It would be a violation if the harasser followed, gestured, or talked to you.
An HRO will not prevent you, as the petitioner from initiating contact. However, if you know the respondent is in a certain location, it would be well advised that you avoid the location.