Family Law

Injunctions Against Harassment

What is a protective order?

A protective order – often also known as a restraining order – is an order from a court of law forbidding a person from committing a specified act. Violation of a protective order may result in both civil and criminal charges.

What kinds of protective orders may an Arizona court issue?

Arizona courts may issue three kinds of protective orders:

  • orders of protection
  • injunctions against harassment
  • injunctions against workplace harassment

What is an order of protection?

An order of protection (A.R.S. § 13-3602) is a court order restraining a person from committing an act of domestic violence.

Domestic violence takes multiple forms – both physical and psychological – and includes not only acts such as assault and sexual assault but also threatening and intimidating, stalking, and harassment.

Such an act is considered an act of domestic violence if any of the following apply:

  • the victim (petitioner) and perpetrator (defendant) are married or were previously married or currently or previously resided in the same household
  • the victim and the perpetrator have a child in common
  • the victim or the perpetrator is carrying a child of the other
  • the victim is related to the perpetrator or to the perpetrator’s spouse by blood or court order as a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, or sister, or by marriage as a parent-in-law, grandparent-in-law, stepparent, step-grandparent, stepchild, step-grandchild, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law
  • the victim is a child who currently resides or previously resided in the same household as the perpetrator and is related by blood to a former spouse of the perpetrator or to a person who currently resides or who previously resided in the same household as the perpetrator
  • the victim and the perpetrator are currently or were previously in a romantic or sexual relationship

What is an injunction against harassment?

An injunction against harassment (A.R.S. § 12-1809) is a court order restraining a person from harassing another who is not and was not previously in a domestic relationship (as described above) with the harasser.

(An “injunction” is a court order that legally obligates a person to do or not do something. In the case of an injunction against harassment, it is a court order compelling one person not to harass another. When a person is ordered through an injunction not to engage in specified conduct, they are formally “enjoined” from engaging in that conduct.)

What is an injunction against workplace harassment?

An injunction against workplace harassment (A.R.S. § 12-1810) is a variation of the standard injunction against harassment which may be obtained by an employer in order to prevent harassment of the employer or any other person who enters the employer’s property or who is performing official work duties for the employer.

What constitutes “harassment”?

Conduct constituting “harassment” against which an injunction against harassment may be sought is a series of acts over any period of time that:

  • is directed at a specific person
  • would cause a reasonable person to be seriously alarmed, annoyed, or harassed
  • in fact seriously alarms, annoys, or harasses the person and
  • serves no legitimate purpose

What are some of the benefits of an injunction against harassment?

The benefits of an injunction against harassment include that it:

  • legally restrains the perpetrator of harassment from contacting the victim of harassment, whether personally, electronically, or through a third party
  • legally restrains the perpetrator of harassment from entering or coming near the home, workplace, or school of the victim of harassment, as well as any other specific locations identified on the court order
  • provides the victim of harassment with legal recourse for a full year if the person against whom the injunction was issued engages in prohibited conduct
  • permits any peace officer who has probable cause to believe that a person has violated the an injunction by engaging in prohibited conduct to arrest that person with or without a warrant and whether or not the violation occurred in the officer’s presence

What are some of the drawbacks of an injunction against harassment?

The drawbacks of an injunction against harassment include that it:

  • does not guarantee the future safety of the victim (because just as the law against murder cannot prevent a person from deliberately killing another person, an injunctions against harassment cannot prevent a person from harassing another person)
  • only remains in effect for one year

How do I ask a court to issue an injunction against harassment?

A petition for an injunction against harassment may be filed with any judicial officer – whether a magistrate, a justice of the peace, or a superior court judge – at any court in Arizona.

The petition – which must be verified (i.e., made under oath and penalty of perjury) – must contain each of the following:

  1. the name and address of the plaintiff (if the address of the plaintiff is unknown to the defendant, the plaintiff may request that the address be protected)
  2. the name and address (if known) of the defendant.
  3. a statement describing specific events and the particular dates of the acts constituting the alleged harassment
  4.  the name of the court in which there was or is any prior or pending proceeding or order concerning the conduct that the petitioner wants to have restrained and
  5.  the specific relief requested (i.e., the particular conduct to be prohibited)

What factors will the court consider in determining whether or not to issue an injunction?

The court will review the petition, any other pleadings on file, and any evidence offered by the plaintiff, including any evidence of harassment by electronic contact or communication, in order to determine whether it should issue the requested injunction without a further hearing. (The general rules of civil procedure which require that the defendant be provided with notice before an injunction will be issued – including Rule 65(a)(1) – do not apply.)

The court will issue the requested injunction if it finds reasonable evidence of the following:

  •  harassment of the plaintiff by the defendant during the year preceding the filing of the petition (any time that the defendant has been incarcerated or outside the state of Arizona is not counted for the purposes of determining this one-year period) or
  • good cause to believe that great or irreparable harm will result to the plaintiff if the injunction is not granted before the defendant may be heard in opposition and
  • specific facts attesting to efforts by the plaintiff to provide the defendant with notice or to reasons supporting a claim by the plaintiff that notice should not be given

May a court issue mutual injunctions against harassment?

No. A court may not grant a mutual injunction against harassment. However, if the parties separately file verified petitions for injunctions against harassment, then the court may consolidate those petitions and hold a single hearing and then issue cross injunctions against harassment.

What may the court enjoin a defendant from doing?

If the court decides to issue an injunction against harassment, it may do any of the following:

  • prohibit the defendant from harassing the plaintiff
  • prohibit the defendant from contacting the plaintiff or other specifically designated persons and from coming near the plaintiff’s residence, place of employment, or school or other specifically designated locations or persons
  • grant any other relief it deems necessary and proper under the circumstances in order to protect the plaintiff and/or other specifically designated persons

When does an injunction against harassment go into effect?

An injunction against harassment goes into effect once the defendant against whom the injunction was issued is served with the court order. Once the court order has been served on the defendant, the injunction applies for twelve months (unless the defendant successfully disputes the injunction during that period).

May a defendant against whom an injunction against harassment is issued dispute the injunction?

Yes. At any time during the period during which the injunction is in effect, the defendant against whom the injunction was ordered is entitled to one review hearing upon written request.

If the defendant requests a hearing, the hearing must be held at the earliest possible time and no more than ten days from the date of the written request unless the court finds compelling reasons to postpone it.

Any injunction issued ex parte (without the defendant first having been served with notice of his right to appear and dispute the allegations contained in the petition) will state on its face that the defendant is entitled to a hearing on written request and it also will include the name and address of the judicial office where the request may be filed.

What may the court decide at a hearing requested by the defendant?

As a result of hearing requested by the defendant, the court may do one of three things:

  • continue the injunction
  • modify the injunction
  • quash (remove) the injunction

Further information

To learn more about injunctions against harassment, please visit https://azcourthelp.org/browse-by-topic/protective-orders and/or any of the sources listed below.

Sources

Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence – Arizona Order of Protection/Injunction Against Harassment Flowchart: http://www.azlawhelp.org/documents/OPP_Flowchart.pdf

Arizona Judicial Branch – Protective Order Forms: http://www.azcourts.gov/domesticviolencelaw/Protective-Order-Forms

Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) § 12-1809: https://www.azleg.gov/ars/12/01809.htm

City of Phoenix – Municipal Court Protective Orders: https://www.phoenix.gov/court/protection-orders

Maricopa County Superior Court – Protective Order Center: http://www.superiorcourt.maricopa.gov/SuperiorCourt/ProtectiveOrderCenter

 

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This website has been prepared for general information purposes only. The information on this website is not legal advice. Legal advice is dependent upon the specific circumstances of each situation. Also, the law may vary from state-to-state or county-to-county, so that some information in this website may not be correct for your situation. Finally, the information contained on this website is not guaranteed to be up to date. Therefore, the information contained in this website cannot replace the advice of competent legal counsel licensed in your jurisdiction.

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