In general, civil harassment is abuse, threats of abuse, stalking, sexual assault, or serious harassment by someone you have NOT dated and do NOT have a close relationship with, like a neighbor, a roommate, or a friend (that you have never dated). It is also civil harassment if the abuse is from a family member that is not included in the list under domestic violence. So, for example, if the abuse is from an uncle or aunt, a niece or nephew, or a cousin, it is considered civil harassment and NOT domestic violence.
The civil harassment laws say “harassment” is:
- Unlawful violence, like assault or battery or stalking, OR
- A credible (real) threat of violence, AND
- The violence or threats seriously scare, annoy, or harass someone and there is
no valid reason for it.
“Credible threat of violence” means intentionally saying something or acting in a way that would make a reasonable person afraid for his or her safety or the safety of his or her family.
A “credible threat of violence” includes:
- following or stalking someone,
- making harassing calls, or sending harassing messages, by phone, mail, or e-mail, over a period of time (even if it is a short time).
Civil Harassment Restraining Order
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.
IMPORTANT: If you are 65 or older or a dependent adult, you can file a civil harassment restraining order against someone you are not close to, BUT you can ALSO file an elder or dependent adult abuse restraining order, which may be better for you because you may be able to get more help before, during, and after the court case.
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