Civil Harassment

Has someone wrongfully filed a civil harassment lawsuit or restraining order against you?  Are you concerned that the restraining order is going to permanently stray on your record?  The Law22 Los Angeles Attorneys can help you fight and defend against frivolous or unfounded claims of civil harassment in the Los Angeles County court system.  Our attorneys have successfully handled numerous unlawful civil harassment and restraining order lawsuits in Los Angeles.

Similarly, our attorneys can also assist you in filing a restraining order and going to court to impose the restraining order on any individual or person who has harassed you.  Civil harassment or restraining order lawsuits are serious, and need to be properly handled by a professional and competent attorney.  If you have any questions, call our Law22 Los Angeles attorneys to schedule an appointment today.

For the person responding to a restraining order

In general, it is more difficult to find free or low-cost legal help if you are responding to a request for a civil harassment lawsuit or restraining order[1], rather than filing one.  However, the attorneys at Law22 are ready to fiercely defend you and ensure that your record is protected.  And our attorneys will do this at extremely competitive and affordable rates.

Many times, responders to the restraining order or civil harassment lawsuit are made to believe that they do not have any other option but to accept the restraining order.  That is simply not true. You can fight a false restraining order or civil harassment lawsuit with the right help.  During the initial consultation, our attorneys can outline the options that are available to you as a responder to a restraining order or civil harassment lawsuit.  Now is the time to fight for your rights.

Here are some things you should know about civil harassment and restraining orders in order to make an informed decision.

What is Harassment?

Two Types of Harassment: Civil Harassment vs. Criminal Harassment

Criminal Harassment.

Criminal harassment is usually set by the state law.  Criminal harassment entails intentionally targeting someone else with behavior that is meant to alarm, annoy, torment or terrorize them. However, not all petty annoyances constitute harassment as the boundaries are defined by the state.  Most state laws require one to show how the behavior of the alleged harasser is a credible threat to the person’s safety or their family’s safety.[2]

Civil Harassment.

In general, civil harassment is abuse, threats of abuse, stalking, sexual assault, or serious harassment by someone you have not dated and do NOT have a close relationship with, like a neighbor, a roommate, or a friend (that you have never dated). It is also civil harassment if the abuse is from a family member that is not included in the list under domestic violence. So, for example, if the abuse is from an uncle or aunt, a niece or nephew, or a cousin, it is considered civil harassment and NOT domestic violence.[3]

The civil harassment laws say “harassment” is:

  • Unlawful violence, like assault or battery or stalking, OR
  • A credible (real) threat of violence, AND
  • The violence or threats seriously scare, annoy, or harass someone and there is no valid reason for it.

“Credible threat of violence” means intentionally saying something or acting in a way that would make a reasonable person afraid for his or her safety or the safety of his or her family. A “credible threat of violence” includes following or stalking someone, making harassing calls, or sending harassing messages, by phone, mail, or e-mail, over a period of time (even if it is a short time).

Harassment includes:

    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 gaining 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 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.

If you do not qualify for a civil harassment restraining order, there are other kinds of orders you may be able to ask for:

  • Domestic violence restraining order (for protection from people you were involved with romantically at some point or close family members). Get more information on getting a domestic violence restraining order.
  • Elder or dependent adult abuse restraining order (if the person being abused is 65 or older, or between 18 and 64 and a dependent adult). Get more information on getting an elder or dependent adult abuse restraining order.
  • Workplace violence restraining order (filed by an employer to protect an employee from violence, stalking, or harassment by another person). Get more information on getting a workplace violence restraining order.

If you are not sure what kind of restraining order you should get, talk to a lawyer.

What Can a Restraining Order Do?

A restraining order is a court order. It can order the restrained person to:

  • Not contact you or any member of your household;
  • Not go near you, your children, or others who live with you, no matter where you go;
  • Stay away from your work, your school, or your children’s school; or
  • Not have a gun.

Once the court issues (makes) a restraining order, it goes into a statewide computer system. This means that law enforcement officers across California can see there is a restraining order in place.

Effect of a Restraining Order on the Restrained Person

For the person to be restrained, the consequences of having a court order against him or her can be very severe.

  • He or she will not be able to go to certain places or to do certain things.
  • He or she will generally not be able to own a gun. (And he or she will have to turn in or sell any guns he or she has and will not be able to buy a gun while the restraining order is in effect.)
  • The restraining order may affect his or her immigration status. If you are a person to be restrained and you are worried about this, talk to an immigration lawyer to find out if you will be affected.

If the person to be restrained violates the restraining order, he or she may go to jail, or pay a fine, or both.

  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.

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 cannot renew the HRO.  If the harassment starts again, you can apply to the Court for another HRO.

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.[4]


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