Restraining Orders Part 1: What to do when you need a TRO
In legal terms, a restraining order is a mandate from the court ordering someone to refrain from a particular activity. Restraining orders are often requested as a response to physical and/or verbal harassments or violence, which has escalated beyond safe levels. Failure to honor a restraining order can result in criminal and/or civil penalties. When we are hired to serve papers, it is frequently to serve a temporary restraining order (TRO), issued to protect our client from an abusive partner or stalker. Once the TRO is officially filed with the courts, you can take legal action if you can prove the respondent (the recipient of the TRO) is in violation of the order.
Obtaining a Temporary Restraining Order
Apply through the courts. First you must apply for a restraining order through the courts. The court usually issues a temporary restraining order within a day or two, depending on the situation. Sometimes it can take a several weeks to make the TRO permanent, and requires a court hearing with both parties present. In the meantime, a temporary restraining order will be issued for a certain length of time. It will outline the behaviors that are forbidden by the respondent and will set a physical distance requirement; in most cases, a respondent will be forbidden to come within 50, 100, 500, or 1000 feet from the victim.
Serve the Temporary Restraining Order. To complete the first part of the process, the perpetrator, or respondent, needs to be served papers instructing him/her of the court's orders. It is a good idea to hire a private investigator to serve the restraining order for you so you have concrete proof it was served. If you are unable to do this, you can send the papers using certified receipt methods, or have a copy of California Form DV-200 on hand. You can present it to the police when the recipient violates the order. The police will then serve a copy of the TRO for you.
Make Copies of your restraining order. It is imperative that you make copies of your restraining order and tuck them away wherever you think you may need them. Keep copies of the TRO in your glove compartment, your purse or wallet, work desk, and any location you feel the perpetrator is likely to show up. It is a good idea to give one to anyone who you have confided in. The more copies you have accessible, the more likely you will be to have one when/if the perpetrator commits a restraining order violation. The police require these copies as proof of the restraining order and its terms and conditions. Failure to show one can result in the police department's inability - or unwillingness - to take action on your behalf.
Notify your employer. Although we understand the very private and sensitive nature that can cause a need for a temporary restraining order, it is a good idea to notify someone in your place of business, such as a manager, when you have legally filed a TRO. This can help to protect you by allowing co-workers to serve as witnesses, or sound the alarm, should the perpetrator violate his/her restraining order by showing up at your place of employment. As we will discuss later, documentation/evidence of restraining order violations is key to taking legal action against the perpetrator.
Notify friends and family members. Just like the above situation, the more people you can trust with the information, the more "lookouts" you have when it comes to your protection and maintaining the documentation, witnesses, and evidence you need to build your case against the perpetrator. Remember, you will eventually need to go to court to make the restraining order permanent, so the more unarguable evidence you have, the better.
Please check back for Restraining Orders: What to do when you need one - Part 2. We will discuss what you should do when the temporary restraining order is violated, as well as some tips on how to prepare for your court case to ensure your temporary restraining order becomes permanent.
Mike Garroutte is the owner of Linked Investigations. He has worked as a Los Angles private detective, as well as an Orange County private detective since 1982. If you need assistance with restraining order violation surveillance, or to serve papers, please contact him at 877-464-5374