Civil Harassment vs. Domestic Violence Restraining Orders

The major difference between a civil TRO application and a domestic violence TRO is the relationship between the parties. For example, to seek a domestic violence restraining order, the parties must have lived together, dated, been married, been domestic partners, etc. Civil harassment restraining orders are reserved for neighbors, acquaintances, etc. The rules for civil harassment restraining orders are found in the Code of Civil Procedure section 527.6. To obtain a TRO, one must show that there is reasonable proof of harassment by the defendant (respondent), and great or irreparable harm would result to plaintiff (petitioner). For the permanent restraining order hearing, the standard of proof is clear and convincing evidence, which is more difficult to show than the standard for domestic violence restraining orders, preponderance of evidence.

There does not have to be a relationship between plaintiff and defendant, but a plaintiff must be a person, not a corporation. The law further allows for protection to be granted for the plaintiff (petitioner) and all household members. A mutual order can be looked at by the court if the defendant (respondent) files a cross-complaint. The orders themselves describe the type of behavior prohibited. They will dictate personal conduct, stay away from parties and residence, firearms/ammunition restrictions such as no possession and use. In addition, the prevailing parties can seek attorneys fees. (CCP 527.6 i). The TRO will last between 15-22 days and if a permanent order is granted, if can last up to 3 years. After the TRO application, the respondent can seek up to one continuance of the permanent hearing.

There is a normal filing fee (over $400.00) unless the petitioner alleges the infliction or threats of violence, stalking, or action that places the petitioner in fear for his or her well being. With those allegations, one can seek to waive the filing fees. If a permanent order is granted, and a renewal is sought, the petitioner must file a new petition within three months of the expiration. Petitioner must show past harassment and a reasonable probability that defendant will continue a harassing course of conduct.