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Decoding the Difference Between a Domestic Violence Restraining Order and a Civil Harassment Restraining Order

decoding-the-difference-between-a-domestic-violence-restraining-order-and-a-civil-harassment-restraining-order

Feeling threatened and worrying about your physical/mental safety is an incredibly frightening and stressful situation. The one bright spot is that California’s lawmakers fully understand just how much danger you are in. Laws and protective orders are in place, each one is designed to keep you safe.

When you go to the police because you’re afraid of someone it’s important to understand that there is a difference between civil harassment and domestic violence.

Contrary to popular belief, in the eyes of the law, domestic violence is not a subcategory crime that’s connected to civil harassment.

The Difference Between Domestic Violence and Civil Harassment

The biggest difference between a domestic violence case and a civil harassment case is your relationship with the person you’re filing the restraining order against. If the person you’re afraid of is someone you have a relationship with, the case is a domestic violence case. The law considers a relationship close if the restraining order is filed against a parent, sibling, child, grandparent, lover, spouse. The idea of the domestic violence restraining order is that the close relationship you’ve shared with the person increases the amount of danger you’re in.

If you don’t have a personal relationship with the person you’re naming in the restraining order, you’re dealing with a civil harassment situation. In many cases, the other party mentioned in the restraining order is a co-worker, neighbor, friend of a friend, social media follower, or a member of a political/social party who has taken a personal and nasty dislike to your lifestyle/actions/viewpoints.

Getting a Restraining Order

It is far easier to request and obtain a domestic violence restraining order than it is a civil harassment restraining order. Police, prosecutors, and judges understand just how quickly domestic situations can turn deadly and are quick to issue a restraining order against one of your loved ones.

When you petition the court for a domestic violence restraining order, you need evidence of abuse (medical records, witness statements, written threats, police reports.)

Getting a civil harassment restraining order is much more complicated. The biggest challenge is establishing that the harassment has reached a point where you feel threatened. The court won’t accept that the person you want to be named in the restraining order is simply verbally harassing you. You’re going to have to submit some sort of proof that they are having a detrimental impact on your life. Getting this proof isn’t always easy. In the case of a civil harassment restraining order, you’ll likely need video, phone, witness, or written evidence. Strong witness statements, particularly by people who aren’t closely connected to you, will also help you obtain the civil harassment lawsuit.

The most important thing to remember when appealing for either domestic violence or civil harassment restraining order is that you must have proof that you are worried about your safety. The more evidence you have, the quicker the court will grant your request.