Injunction Against Harassment Defense

This past Friday, I was interviewed by Lauren Vargas with ABC 15 News about Injunctions Against Harassment.  I explained what Injunctions Against Harassment are and Injunction Against Harassment Defense if you have been served with one.

What Is an Injunction Against Harassment?

In Arizona, an Injunction Against Harassment is a court protective order preventing one person from having contact with another person.  The person who requests the Injunction Against Harassment is the Plaintiff and the person who is served with the Injunction Against Harassment is the Defendant.

The Plaintiff can request an Injunction Against Harassment when the Defendant has committed harassment against the Plaintiff.

“Harassment” means a series of acts over any period of time that is directed at a specific person and that would cause a reasonable person to be seriously alarmed, annoyed or harassed and the conduct in fact seriously alarms, annoys or harasses the person and serves no legitimate purpose.

“Series of acts” means two or more incidents  where the Plaintiff felt harassed by the Defendant.

How Does a Person Request an Injunction Against Harassment?

A person, the Plaintiff, requests an Injunction Against Harassment by going to either their city court or their justice court and filling out a Petition for an Injunction Against Harassment.

In the petition , the Plaintiff must write about the specific incidents in which they felt harassed by the Defendant.  Where possible, it is important to include dates of each specific act.  Most courts have forms that are easy to fill out.

After the Plaintiff fills out the Petition, it is submitted to the judge and the Plaintiff goes into the courtroom.  In the courtroom, the judge has them raise their right hand and swear to tell the truth.  The judge then questions the Plaintiff about the Defendant’s actions to determine if the Petition meets the standard for the court to issue an Injunction Against Harassment.  The Defendant is not present to defend themselves at this hearing.  This is called an ex parte hearing.

If the judge finds that the Plaintiff’s request meets the minimum standard, the court will issue the Injunction Against Harassment.  The Injunction Against Harassment can prevent the Defendant from making any contact with the Plaintiff, can prohibit the Defendant from going to  certain locations, and can even prohibit the Defendant from possessing and purchasing firearms.  The Injunction Against Harassment is good for one year.

The Injunction Against Harassment must be served upon the Defendant.  Usually this is done by a police officer, but it can also be done by a process server.  The Injunction Against Harassment does not go into effect until it is served on the Defendant.

Injunction Against Harassment Defense: Know Your Options

Once the Defendant is served with an Injunction Against Harassment, they have a right to challenge the protective order.  To start an Injunction Against Harassment Defense, the Defendant must make a written request to the court.

Once the written request is made, the court must hold a hearing within ten business days.  It is best to wait to file the request for a hearing until the Defendant has completely prepared their case, or has had an opportunity to hire an attorney.  If the Defendant hires an attorney, the attorney will file the hearing request once the case is prepared.

Hiring an experienced Injunction Against Harassment attorney to challenge the Injunction Against Harassment is the best course of action for the Defendant.  An attorney who is experienced in challenging Injunctions Against Harassment will conduct a complete investigation of the Plaintiff in order to dig up any dirt that may be useful to impeach the Plaintiff in court.  An experienced attorney will also completely investigate the facts and speak with potential witnesses prior to requesting the hearing.

What Happens at an Injunction Against Harassment Hearing?

Injunction Against Harassment hearings usually take 1 to 2 hours, but they could take longer.  Usually the Plaintiff, since they have the burden of proof, goes first.  The Plaintiff must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the Defendant harassed the Plaintiff according to the legal definition.  Preponderance of the evidence is the equivalent of 51%.

After the Plaintiff presents his case and witnesses, the Defendant gets a turn to present his case and witnesses.  After all the witnesses have testified, each side is permitted to make a brief argument to the judge explaining why they should win.

If the Plaintiff and the Defendant have attorneys, usually the attorneys will ask the parties and witnesses questions, although in Arizona, judges are also permitted to question witnesses.  If the parties do not have attorneys, usually the judge will ask all the questions of both sides and their witnesses.

Usually at the end of the hearing the judge will issue her decision.  The judge can uphold the Injunction Against Harassment, modify the Injunction Against Harassment, or dismiss (quash) the Injunction against Harassment.

Injunction Against Harassment Defense: What Should You Do If You are Served?

Oftentimes, the first reaction to being served with an Injunction Against Harassment it to get emotional.  While this is a normal response, being angry or upset can hinder your judgment.  Most people respond by immediately requesting a hearing.  This can be a mistake.

The best thing to do is to seek the advice of an experienced attorney.  I have handled scores of Injunctions Against Harassment Defense cases and can provide my clients with the best possible strategy for their cases.  Conducting the investigation prior to requesting the hearing is the key to winning.

If you are served with an Injunction Against Harassment I would be happy to meet with you to discuss your case.

Injunction Against Harassment Resources

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