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Restraining Orders

In sport and in the working world, persistence is considered a virtue. Those who succeed, whether they are MVP of the team or President of the company, are often praised for how they “refuse to take ‘no’ for an answer.” Ironically, when the games are over and the board meetings have ended, this same quality can result in negative consequences in another forum. A “determined” person may find him or herself facing legal action if a desired lover or friend begins to feel threatened by repeated unwelcome advances.

In lawyer-talk, the legal action that would be taken in this instance is called a “restraining order.” Restraining orders are undoubtedly familiar to anyone who has heard tales of movie stars and their obsessive fans. Yet, movie stars are not the only ones who can file for restraining orders. According to California law, anyone who feels threatened or harassed by the presence of another person may request a restraining order from the local Superior Court. Before filing, the person requesting the order must first determine how long he or she needs the protection to last. If protection is only needed for a short period, a temporary restraining order is probably the best option. If, however, a person feels the need for indefinite protection, he or she should file for a permanent restraining order. A permanent restraining order is more difficult to obtain than its temporary counterpart, but its provisions extend for up to three years.

In addition to time considerations, those who file for restraining orders must also specify what type of orders they desire. A domestic violence restraining order, for example, is specifically intended for individuals who have been in a relationship or are related. If two parties do not share such a bond, however, they can still be legally protected with a civil harassment restraining order. Civil harassment restraining orders are taken as a means of protection against non-relatives, such as co-workers or unknown stalkers.

While restraining orders can be highly useful against those who “refuse to take ‘no’ for an answer,” such legal action should not be taken casually. A restraining order directly limits another person’s ability to freely move about. Accordingly, those considering a restraining order should carefully reflect upon whether they actually need legal protection. Can the antagonist be convinced to stay away? Or is the antagonist determined to the point that talking reasonably has no effect? In the second case, a restraining order is indeed necessary and one who files for it will witness the order’s incredible ability to dissuade even the most persistent individual.