Any person who claims to be the victim of domestic abuse or harassment may petition the court for an order restraining the alleged perpetrator from committing future conduct. The request for relief can be specifically tailored to protect the petitioner but generally the court orders the respondent to avoid contact and communication with the petitioner.
Domestic abuse is an intentional infliction of pain, injury, illness, sexual assault, or damage to one’s property, or a threat to do any of the above, by a family member, adult household member, adult caregiver, or former spouse or significant other. Harassment is subjecting a person to physical contact, sexual assault, stalking, threatening to do any of the above, or engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts to harass or intimidate which serve no legitimate purpose.
Procedurally, the petitioner must file a petition with the court requesting specific relief. There is a 2-step procedure. At the time the petition is filed, if the court finds reasonable grounds (typically based on the party’s statements) that the respondent has engaged in or based on prior conduct could engage in domestic abuse or harassment, it will issue a temporary restraining order against the responded that would be in effect immediately. This temporary restraining order is in effect until a hearing on the request for an injunction.
Regardless of whether the court issues a temporary restraining order, at the time of filing the court will also schedule a hearing on the petition that typically occurs approximately two weeks from the filing date. At this hearing, the court will hear evidence from all parties and decide whether to grant or deny the injunction.
The court may order an injunction to continue for up to four years, or in rare cases, nine years. All restraining orders and injunctions are enforceable with the police. If a domestic abuse injunction is granted, the respondent must surrender all firearms for the term of the injunction.