Article provided by Portland Family Law Attorney - Jensen & Leiberan PC
In Oregon, there are two types of orders a person may obtain from a court in order to help prevent unwanted contact with another person.
Stalking Protective Orders:
A person (the "petitioner") may obtain a stalking protective order against another person (the "respondent") from a court if:
- The respondent has intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly engaged in repeated and unwanted contact (two or more contacts within the previous two years) with the petitioner, or a person of the petitioner's immediate family or household thereby alarming or coercing the petitioner;
- It is objectively reasonable for a person in the petitioner's situation to have been alarmed or coerced by the contact; and
- The repeated and unwanted contact cause the petitioner reasonable apprehension regarding the personal safety of the petitioner or member of the petitioner's immediate family or household.
A person seeking a stalking protective order must file a petition with the court, stating the basis for the order. There is an initial court appearance when the petition is filed with the court. At the initial court appearance, the petitioner may request a temporary stalking protective order from the court. A judge will review the petition and make a determination whether to grant the temporary stalking order.
The respondent must then be served with the petition for the stalking protective order, along with notice of a hearing date. At the second hearing, the court will decide whether to grant the stalking protective order.
A stalking order may last indefinitely (unless the court specifies a shorter period of time), and can prohibit the respondent from having any type of contact with the petitioner. The petitioner may request that the court award monetary damages (including any damages for emotional distress) and reasonable attorney fees and court costs. If appropriate, the court can also order the respondent to undergo a mental health evaluation and to follow through with any recommended treatment.
A person may obtain a restraining order in Oregon if:
- The petitioner has been the victim of abuse within the preceding 180 days (with some exceptions), and the petitioner is in imminent danger of further abuse from the respondent; and
- The petitioner is seeking a restraining order against a family member, household member, or someone with whom the petitioner has had a sexual relationship.
In order to obtain a restraining order, the petitioner must fill out a petition for a restraining Order, and then appear before a judge. The judge will review the paperwork, ask the petitioner questions, and determine whether to grant the restraining order.
If the restraining order is granted, a sheriff will serve copies of the restraining order on the respondent. The respondent then has a limited time to decide whether to request a hearing to contest the restraining order. If the respondent requests a hearing, the respondent may choose to contest the entire restraining order, or portions of the restraining order.
In the parties have joint children, the petitioner may request that the court award one parent temporary custody or order a temporary parenting time plan as part of the restraining order. The petitioner may request that respondent have only limited types of contact with the petitioner (such as e-mails or text messaging), or the petitioner may request that the respondent be prevented from having any type of contact with the petitioner. In addition, the petitioner may request that the respondent be prevented from coming near the petitioner's house, workplace, petitioner's children's school or daycare, or other locations where the petitioner frequently spends time.
If the restraining order is continued after a contested hearing, or if a hearing is not requested, then the restraining order will be in effect for one year from the date that it was obtained from the court. A petitioner may apply to have the restraining order renewed (for up to a year at a time), if the petitioner reasonably fears further acts of abuse if the restraining order is not renewed.
Legal Implications of a Stalking Protective Order or Restraining Order
A respondent who violates the provisions of either a stalking protective order or a restraining order commits a crime. A respondent who violates either type of order may be fined, placed in jail, and/or placed on probation.
In most cases, the first violation of a stalking protective order is a Class A misdemeanor. The second violation of a stalking protective order is a Class C felony.
A violation of a restraining order is a crime, and a respondent who violates a restraining order may be charged with contempt of court, a Class B misdemeanor.
If you receive notice that someone has obtained a stalking protective order or a restraining order against you, it is important that you consult an attorney about your legal rights. You will only have a limited time to respond, once you are served with notice of either type of order. The provisions of a restraining order or stalking protective order can impact your parental rights. Both types of orders are public records which may be obtained by any person conducting a background check on you in the future. Either type of order may also restrict your ability to possess and use firearms.
The process for obtaining a stalking protective order or a restraining order varies from county to county. An experienced family law attorney can advise you of local court requirements, and help you to obtain the appropriate type of order from a court if you have been the victim of abuse or unwanted contact.
If you are a victim of a physical assault, stalking, or of serious threats of physical violence, you should contact the police immediately. A stalking protective order or a restraining order can only be obtained during regular court hours.