Civil Harassment

Young woman holding her hands out in front of herCivil Harassment

Feeling threatened by neighbors or strangers is frightening, particularly if you’re not sure what options you have for stopping the threat or for protecting yourself against it. Likewise, if you are being accused of harassment and are seeking legal defense, it can feel overwhelming to find a reliable defense attorney to represent you. Fortunately, you don’t have to face this situation by yourself. You do have legal options to safeguard yourself with protective orders. As a former deputy district attorney and experienced civil harassment attorney in San Diego, I can help you to file a civil harassment restraining order in California. In addition, I can guide you through the process of filing a civil lawsuit for harassment or help you find a fair outcome if you’re facing civil harassment charges yourself.

What Exactly is Civil Harassment?

Civil harassment and domestic violence are similar to each other in that they both are charged under California criminal codes for crimes against people. What makes civil harassment different is that it doesn’t have to involve an immediate family member or significant other. Instead, it may involve more distant family such as cousins, nieces/nephews, or aunts/uncles, as well as non-romantic roommates, work acquaintances, neighbors, friends, or strangers. If one of the above parties is threatening to harm you, it is within your right to file a civil harassment restraining order against them in California. With the help of an attorney, you can easily secure a protective order and attain a new sense of security going forward. Likewise, an attorney can help you to collect damages due to being harassed and threatened by a distant family member, your friends, and strangers.

About Civil Harassment & Restraining Orders

Once the court issues a civil harassment restraining order, the accused offender must abstain from contacting the accuser or any member of their household. Further, offenders are required by law to physically stay away from the accuser; this includes but is not limited to the accuser’s children, school and/or work, and their children’s school and/or work. Law enforcement is able to see the restraining order at any time, as the information is stored in a statewide computer network. In California, a civil harassment restraining order can remain active for up to five years from the date at which the order was issued. The length of the order, however, is at the court’s discretion.
  • Temporary restraining orders, or “TRO,” can remain in effect for up to 21 days. Other types of civil harassment restraining orders can be enacted for as little as a few days.
  • Emergency protective orders, or an “EPO,” can last for up to seven days.
    • EPOs are issued under two conditions:
  1. It’s determined that a person requires immediate protection from another person, and,
  2. They contact a judge and get approval for the order from the Superior Court of California.

What happens if a person violates a civil harassment restraining order?

A violation of a restraining order in California is most often charged as a misdemeanor and punishable by up to one year in county jail, and/or a maximum fine of $1,000. In the case that the violation came with an act of violence, or if it was the offender’s second conviction, different punishments can be charged as a felony. In this scenario, the offender can be sentenced to state prison for up to three years, and/or fined up to $10,000. When facing criminal charges for civil harassment, it is wise to seek legal counsel from an experienced civil harassment attorney immediately.

More Details About Civil Harassment

One (unfortunately) common example of civil harassment includes being stalked. Another is receiving harassing calls, texts, or emails, or any correspondence that threatens your safety and livelihood. Filing a civil harassment restraining order in California is critical for your physical and psychological safety when another’s conduct is menacing your life. The conduct of the other party is deemed harassment if it is annoying, is alarming, and doesn’t serve a legitimate purpose. Specifically, the person seeking court protection must have suffered serious emotional distress as a result of the other person’s conduct.

How to File a Report

In order to file your case, you must complete seven forms in the Civil Harassment Restraining Order Form Packet. These include:

Tap into the Restraining Order Expertise of Attorney Michael C. MacNeil

Image of a person’s eye looking out in purple and red lightIf you’re tired of being harassed by a distant relative, colleague, estranged friend, or stranger, I, attorney Michael C. MacNeil, can help. I can help you to obtain a civil harassment restraining order in California, which will require the other person to quit contacting you and to stay a particular distance from you. Or, I can assist you in filing a legal suit for damages. Whether you need representation in court for civil harassment charges or legal guidance on obtaining a protective order for yourself and your family, I can and will pursue the fairest outcomes for your case. I approach all civil harassment cases with the goal of treating you like I would treat my own family. I’ve personally seen how matters involving harassment can be stressful for my clients, and my goal is to help you to address these matters with confidence. Contact me today to set up a free half-hour consultation. We’ll go over your options and help you to pursue the best outcome possible in California.

Additional Resources

If you are experiencing an emergency, are in immediate danger, and/or feel someone you love is at risk for harm, please call 911. Domestic Violence Support in California National Domestic Abuse Hotline: 888-385-4657