The Awareness Center's Daily Newsletter - Jan. 18, 2003
Learn how to file a restraining order. When you have been abused or assaulted, one of the best ways to protect yourself is to file for a restraining order with the courts.
Difficulty Level: Average Time Required: 1-2 Days
- Visit a crisis center or domestic abuse prevention facility in your area and talk to an advocate about your restraining order. Do not try to do this by yourself. The advocate will have blank copies of the form.
- Get the forms necessary for filing the restraining order in your jurisdiction and read them carefully along with your advocate.
- Fill in all the information required on the restraining order forms. Tell the truth and give accurate names, dates, addresses and phone numbers. Especially important are details about threats and actual violence.
- Show your advocate any evidence you have collected: photos of bruises, police reports, doctor's reports, tape recordings of telephone conversations, etc.
- Follow your advocate's advice on how to present your evidence so the judge can allow it and give you the strongest possible restraining order.
- File your OFP or HRO request form with the court administrator where your advocate takes you. Tell the clerk how you want to receive your copy of the approved restraining order.
- The judge will look over your restraining order request forms during a break in his schedule. If he is convinced, he will sign a temporary restraining order. This is called an "Ex Parte" ("ex par-TAY")order, and is good until the hearing.
- Follow your advocate's advice on how to be safe as the police deliver a copy of the restraining order to your batterer. Statistically, this is the most dangerous time for you.
- The restraining order does not take effect until the perp gets his copy. If he comes near you before he is served, he is not guilty of a violation. However, that is a good opportunity for the police to serve him. Call 9-1-1.
- You will be notified when the perp is served. From that moment, be ready to call 9-1-1 and report even the slightest violation of the order. Keep your copy of the restraining order with you at all times.
- Get copies of the restraining order and give them to whoever needs to know: your landlord, your boss, the principal of your children's school, etc. Tell them to call 9-1-1 if they see your perp.
- An official hearing will be scheduled, usually within 10 days. This is where the judge will decide if the Ex Parte restraining order should be made official, and extended to one or two years.
- Attend the hearing with your advocate. Follow your advocate's advice on how to testify. Your perp will have the opportunity to present his side. Any witnesses must be present to testify.
- Hopefully, the judge will grant the long-term restraining order even after hearing the perp's side of the case. If an OFP, ask for detailed instructions on what the perp can and can not do.
- Carry a copy of the approved restraining order with you at all times. Report even the slightest violation of it. And celebrate. You now have some powerful friends.
- This advice is based on Minnesota law. Check with an advocate to make sure it accurately reflects the laws in your state.
- Remember, an OFP or HRO is a legal document. Know who to call to enforce it.
- The restraining order is between the judge and your perp. Even if you invite the perp to come back, he will be arrested unless you officially cancel the order.
- The restraining order only goes one way. It is against your perp, restricting his actions. It is not against you.
- Again, go find an advocate and work with her. Do not try to file a restraining order by yourself.