How do I increase my chances of filing an order of protection?
August 9, 2011 10:01 PM   Subscribe

How do I increase my chances of filing an order of protection?

I am planning on getting an order of protection or a restraining order. I really need it because I am so afraid of two of my family members. In order to do this, I am flying over to Los Angeles (where my college is) so I can avoid my family and make a restraining order here.
I am planning on getting an order of protection or a restraining order. I really need it because I am so afraid of two of my family members.

These two have tried to prevent me from going to college, and they continually harass me hoping that I will break down. They are not diagnosed with any mental disorders since they believe it's a lack of trust in God if they rely on therapy, but my own therapist (who I have met secretly until my mother snooped through my bag) has suggested that my mother may have borderline personality disorder, or have a manipulative personality.

What should I say to the judge when I am at LA? I really need the restraining order.
Would my own testimony help if there is no documented proof of abuse that I mention? For example, I may tell the judge that my mother stalks me when I am outside and threatens to hurt me, but as long as I do not have any proof, what would the judge think?

I have a few (minor) police reports, been reported to the DCFS once by the high school social worker, and have potential witnesses to my mom and brother's erratic behavior including relatives and my school counselor. There has been no documented cases of physical violence except one and another that was considered "domestic battery" even though the police did not check for my bruises.

Some of the police reports include me escaping from home to a shelter at the age of 15 (with no proof of physical abuse), and being physically assaulted, restrained, and locked in a room as an adult. The latter had the police take pictures of minor cuts on me, but not enough to warrant a 72 hour arrest on my family members who ganged up on me.

I am also collecting a few emails that my mother sends me. They are links to Youtube videos that talk about conspiracy theories, 2012, and Planet Nibiru. I am hoping that I can use these as proof that something is psychologically wrong with her.

Anyone who has successfully gotten a restraining order, what did you say and what did you provide for the judge?
Please help me.
posted by kopi to Law & Government (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I may tell the judge that my mother stalks me when I am outside and threatens to hurt me, but as long as I do not have any proof, what would the judge think?

Your testimony is proof. More specifically, your testimony is evidence the judge may consider. Often, in my state, orders of protection are granted based solely on the testimony of the person seeking the order of protection.
posted by jayder at 10:28 PM on August 9, 2011

How to file for a restraining order in Los Angeles California (PDF) explains the procedure.

It sounds like the procedure is this (just summarizing that PDF):
1. You go to the courthouse and fill out paperwork (and maybe pay a fee, depending) to apply for a temporary restraining order, and once a judge grants it, that automatically schedules a hearing to decide if it will become a

2. The person the restraining order is about ("the defendant") needs to be "served" -- that is, you have to arrange for someone to give your parents the document that says they're under a restraining order. This lets the defendant know when the hearing is; they are allowed to come to the hearing.

3. At the hearing, you give testimony and evidence about why you need the restraining order. The defendant/s can come and give testimony too. A judge decides whether to issue a longer-term restraining order, which can be for up to 3 years.

4. If you win, the defendant needs to be served again, with the results of the judge's decision.

The PDF has a great list of legal help clinics and phone lines in the area (at the end of the document) -- if you need help with this process, it would be a good idea to get in touch with one of them since they know the process in your area and can work with you on the details of your case.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:39 PM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

If you're thinking about what to say to the judge, I think your first step is to write up a list of specific incidents that make you feel you need the restraining order. From your question it sounds like you have already started doing this - good! Try to think of the dates (as best you can) and specific things that your parents did or said. Pay special attention to physical actions (hitting, pushing, grabbing, etc) and threats. Then you can make a second version of the list, in chronological order so you can keep everything straight in your mind. Definitely keep copies of any threatening emails or voice mails they send.

You may also be able to get help, or even legal help, through your college. (The phone number for the UCLA Student Legal Aid line is listed in that PDF.) Call the college counseling center or the student life office and see if they can help, or point you to someone who can help. Or call (or go in person to) one of the legal help services listed in the PDF.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:00 PM on August 9, 2011

When you are applying for the order, keep expressing your fear of the family members. The threats that are made to you, cause fear and are disruptive to your life.

There are usually advocates available to help you through the process of applying and going before the judge. I worked as one for a few years.

If the threats are mentally off, like expressing theories.......just odd statements, they may be discounted as valid threats, but the fear is real and valid, again, keep expressing your fear.

and remember, orders, of any type, are paper. They are a great tool, but you need to stay safe yourself.
posted by jennstra at 11:33 PM on August 9, 2011

I've done it, but I don't know how relevant my experience will be to you. I showed up in the early morning with a copy of the police report I'd filed the night before, and requested a temporary restraining order, which was granted automatically, with a court date set for 30-60 days later (I can't remember... probably closer to 30). The person I filed against showed up at the hearing. I have no idea what that would mean for a restraining order filed against someone out of state.

I wish you the best - I'm so sorry you've had to handle this for so many years, it sounds very hard and scary.
posted by namesarehard at 3:00 AM on August 10, 2011

Oh yeah, and I had to have him served, which my lawyer took care of. Again, no idea how this would work out of state. Can you fax it to a process server? You'll need to ask the court.
posted by namesarehard at 3:01 AM on August 10, 2011


Check the California statute for the precise wording of the standard the judge will be looking for. There may be specific rules about orders against a person out of state. In my state, the standard is that the person requesting the protection order has a reasonable fear that their health or safety will be in imminent danger if the other party is not restrained.

General Thoughts:
1. It's tempting to minimize in public -- you don't want to air dirty laundry or come off as a whiner. Resist the urge. Talk about how you're afraid, and how your fear impacts your life.
2. Provide specific examples of things that caused you fear. Again, what they did and how it affects you. Anything that caused anyone to call the police, any physical abuse, any threats, the snooping through your stuff.
3. You may not get to introduce the police reports or emails (because of evidence rules), but you can talk about the circumstances that led to them, and definitely mention anything that uninvolved people witnessed
4. If you've had negative effects on your life or had to change your behavior because of the person, spill it.
5. Things to focus on --
a. threats to your health or safety (physical or mental)
b. stalking or harassing behavior (following, unwanted phone calls, etc.)
c. anything that generated a police report or child services investigation
d. the fact that you are afraid
e. what you think will happen if you don't get the restraining order
posted by freshwater at 8:13 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

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