You’ve heard about domestic violence, which typically involves threats, sexual assault, and actual violence between family members. In many situations, a victim of domestic violence (e.g. spousal abuse or child abuse) will go to court and ask for a restraining order, prohibiting the abuser from continuing further acts of violence.
But, what if someone is threatening or abusing someone and they are not closely related to this person, nor are you dating them? After all, such harassment does not fall under the heading of “domestic violence.” If someone is harassing a victim and it is not technically domestic violence, then it is considered “civil harassment.”
“What is civil harassment exactly?” Generally, civil harassment refers to stalking, sexual assault, threats of violence, or actual abuse by someone who the victim has not had a romantic relationship with, nor have they ever been “close” to.
Civil harassment can be committed by:
- A roommate,
- A co-worker,
- A neighbor,
- A friend the victim never dated,
- Someone the victim has never met (e.g. a stalker), or
- A family member who is not on the list for domestic violence; for example, an aunt or uncle, a cousin, or a niece or nephew.
Note: For abuse to be considered “domestic violence” between family members, the abuser must be a close relative, such as a spouse, parent, foster parent, grandparent, or sibling. If the abuse was carried out by a more distant relative, such as an aunt or uncle, a cousin, or a niece or nephew, then it would NOT be domestic violence. Instead, it would be civil harassment.
Effects of a Civil Harassment Restraining Order
Let’s say an emotionally unstable co-worker was jealous that a fellow employee got a promotion instead of him. When he got fired from his job shortly afterward, he started threatening to harm his former co-worker.
In this situation, the victim can ask the court for a civil harassment restraining order, which is much like a domestic violence restraining order, but it’s designed to protect the victim from people who he or she is not dating and not closely related to.
A civil harassment restraining order can order the restrained person to:
- Stay away from the victim.
- Not contact the victim or anyone in the victim’s home.
- Stay away from the victim’s children and others who live with the victim.
- Stay away from the victim’s place of employment, school, and their children’s school.
- Not own, possess, or control a firearm.
If the person being restrained is a non-U.S. citizen, the restraining order may affect their immigration status, or it may affect their ability to become a U.S. citizen. Additionally, if the restrained person violates the restraining order in any way, they commit a crime and can face fines, or jail time, or both a fine and imprisonment.
Has someone gotten a civil harassment restraining order against you? If so, contact our firm to schedule a free consultation with an East Bay criminal attorney.