In California, a civil harassment restraining order is a court order that helps protect people from violence, stalking, serious harassment, or threats of violence. You can ask for a civil harassment restraining order if:
- A person has abused (or threatened to abuse), sexually assaulted, stalked, or seriously harassed you, AND
- You are scared or seriously annoyed or harassed.
Also, the person you want to restrain CANNOT be:
- Your spouse/partner or former spouse/partner,
- Someone you dated at any point, OR
- A close relative (parent, child, brother, sister, grandmother, grandfather, in-law).
The person you want to restrain CAN be:
- A neighbor,
- A roommate (as long as you never dated),
- A friend,
- A family member more than 2 degrees removed, like an aunt or uncle, a niece or nephew, cousins, and more distant relatives, OR
- Other people you are not closely related to.
A restraining order is a court order. It can order the restrained person to:
- Not contact you or any member of your household;
- Not go near you, your children, or others who live with you, no matter where you go;
- Stay away from your work, your school, or your children’s school; or
- Not have a gun.
Once the court issues (makes) a restraining order, it goes into a statewide computer system. This means that law enforcement officers across California can see there is a restraining order in place.
For the person to be restrained, the consequences of having a court order against him or her can be very severe.
- He or she will not be able to go to certain places or to do certain things.
- He or she will generally not be able to own a gun. (And he or she will have to turn in, sell or store any guns he or she has and will not be able to buy a gun while the restraining order is in effect.)
- The restraining order may affect his or her immigration status. If you are a person to be restrained and you are worried about this, talk to an immigration lawyer to find out if you will be affected.
If the person to be restrained violates the restraining order, he or she may go to jail, or pay a fine, or both.
Not only is sexual harassment illegal. The law also prohibits:
- Racial harassment
- Religious harassment
- Age-based harassment
- Harassment based on disability
- Harassment based on ethnicity or national origin