I wrote a bit about the emotional rollercoaster I experienced while filing for and being granted a restraining order but I wanted to share a little more in hopes it will help the countless women I know in this position. I had no idea what to expect because I didn’t have any experience with the court system. I hope what I share below is helpful!
Here are SIX THINGS I wish I’d known or I feel are important to know from the get-go….
Do you need a lawyer to file for an order of protection? What does it cost to file?
No lawyer is needed, however; I did consult with law enforcement and one lawyer. It doesn’t cost anything monetarily to file. The forms were easily found online by looking up the Justice Court in our/your area.
What kind of proof do you need to show? (This is my experience in Arizona https://www.allenlawaz.com/order-of-protection-arizona/.)
In order to obtain an order of protection, the plaintiff must present the following to the court:
You will meet with the judge and a court reporter in a closed courtroom. You will be sworn in, etc, and it will take at least thirty minutes, from my experience. I wrote more about my experience in this blog; however, I will say I came to court armed with physical proof in the form of print outs of harassing emails to myself and co-workers, screenshots of online harassment at my place of work, and a police report from a domestic violence call.
What were some key points made by the judge?
The judge, in my case reiterated, that while this order is in place and protects me legally, that it truly does not protect me from domestic violence, if he chooses to come after me. He urged me to be aware at all times. What it DOES do is it makes it illegal for him to contact me in any way, shape, or form.
If the defendant lives out of state (which mine does), you have to pay a process server to serve him the order of protection before it was considered active. It’s not cheap. I paid roughly $500 and that was a steal. If the defendant dodges the serving (does not answer the door, etc), then you might have to pay extra for the server to do surveillance to serve him when he is out and about. This is exactly what happened to me.
What if the defendant doesn’t read the order?
It is still active no matter if he reads it or not as long as he is served. According to the process server (who writes up an affidavit with photos of the defendant when he serves him), he must touch the envelope. In my case—and in the case of many others who are dealing with not-so-ethical folks—they will deny their identity. In my case, he threw the unopened envelope on the ground and denied his identity before driving off. He also denied his identity when Flagstaff PD called to make sure he knew the order was in effect.
*Side note: The cop I was working with here in Flagstaff told me immediately that with these types of DV (Domestic Violence) cases, most of the time, the defendant will try to get around the system by sending some kind of message to the plaintiff. And sure enough, he did. He sent messages via fake Facebook profiles. I was able to trace the profiles back to him and provided the cops with the information.
If the defendant violates the no-contact order of protection, then a warrant for his arrest is issued.