How to File a Restraining Order
Deciding to seek protection from someone who may wish you or your family harm can be frightening and isolating. The first step in protecting yourself from an aggressor, whether from domestic abuse, harassment, stalking, or threats, is a restraining order. Georgia has a relatively straightforward civil process to obtain a protective or restraining order.
Throughout this process, by showing that the defendant means you harm, you must demonstrate the necessity of the restraining order to a judge. The more proof that you have of abuse, harassment, or harmful intentions, the better your the chances of obtaining a restraining order are. When you need help, one of the experienced attorneys at Kessler & Solomiany, LLC can offer you support and help you through the process of filing for a restraining order.
When Should I Consider Seeking a Restraining Order?
Several different behaviors may constitute legal grounds for a restraining order. Getting a restraining order may be one of the procedures requested during a divorce case. If your health, well-being, or livelihood is at jeopardy because of another person, ask your lawyer about filing for a temporary protective order.
Georgia takes restraining orders very seriously and offers a variety of options to address different types of threats. To convince the judge that the TPO is necessary to prevent imminent or ongoing harm, you must be able to prove at least one of the following:
Physical Abuse and Threats of Harm
Acts or threats of violence are some of the most substantial pieces of evidence necessary to convince a judge. Any unwanted touching, pushing, and restraint may be considered physical abuse. Pictures, videos, and voice recordings go a long way towards proving abuse. Photos of the bodily damage caused and audio or video recordings of threats can also serve as evidence when filing for a restraining order.
If someone forced you into sexual activity without your consent, you have the right to apply for a sexual abuse protective order. At the hearing, you should be ready to have witnesses testify, give your testimony, and provide the judge with any evidence you have. Photos of your injuries and text messages from respondents are some examples of potential evidence in these cases.
Psychological and emotional abuse is also considered sufficient grounds for a temporary restraining order. Reliable evidence can include notes, text messages, or voice recordings in which the defendant demonstrates abusive behavior. Witness testimony can also prove a valuable asset. Note that such claims are not limited to physical threats, but include any ongoing harm to your emotional and mental well-being.
Stalking Protective Orders have their own rules in Georgia. No proof of abuse or threats of violence is required. All that is needed is that you demonstrate that the accused is following you, making you feel uncomfortable, or invading your personal space. If you can provide proof of threatening or disturbing behavior through messages, videos, or pictures, you have a good chance of getting approval for a stalking order.
Depletion of Assets
If you can prove that the aggressor is hiding or destroying assets to punish you, this can also be grounds for a restraining order. Financial records or any written proof of financial wrongdoing can always aid your case. The court may also file a restraining order against a bank to prevent the defendant from hiding assets.
Family Violence Protective Orders exist in Georgia to protect anyone in a family from any other family member who poses a threat. These orders are particularly useful because they mandate that the defendant immediately vacate the family home. Temporary Protective Orders (TPO) typically last for 30 days. A judge will schedule a court date before the TPO expires where the victim can seek more permanent protection against the aggressor’s abuse or harassment.
Types of Protective Orders in Georgia
Depending on your situation, you may benefit more from a protective order or restraining order. Since restraining orders are temporary in Georgia, if you obtain one, understand that the protection isn’t permanent. Restraining orders generally have an expiration date. Individuals with most restraining orders cannot own or purchase firearms.
Comparatively, protective orders have a longer duration and can also apply to the victim’s children, family members, and romantic partners. Some protective orders last for several years, while others can be permanent. Depending on the circumstances, any violation of a protective law may be considered a felony, misdemeanor, or contempt of court.
There are three different levels of protective orders that Georgia courts accept. You should decide which type is best for you based on the severity of the circumstances and perceived intentions.
- No Contact Order – These orders require the defendant to abstain from contacting you in any way, including phone calls, online messages, text messages, and in person.
- Stay Away Order – A Stay-Away Order generally forces the aggressor to stay at least 300 yards away and prevents them from living in the same home as you.
- Peaceful Contact Order – This is the most common type of restraining order in divorce cases where custody of children is shared. Peaceful contact orders allow civil communication and contact with the other person.
An experienced Georgia restraining order attorney can help you decide which type of protective order to pursue and help you navigate the necessary paperwork and court proceedings.
How Can Kessler & Solomiany, LLC Help Me?
If you or your loved ones fear for your safety, a protective or restraining order may be the first step to security and peace of mind. Your priority should be to gather as much evidence as possible of any abuse, threats, or wrongdoing. Collecting evidence may include taking photos, videos, and voice recordings. If you are hurt, photograph the injuries before any marks fade and save them in a safe location.
Georgia also has a “one-party consent” wiretapping law that allows you to secretly record conversations or phone calls as long as you consent to the recording. Medical records and prepared timelines of abuse can also help your case in court. If you feel unsafe and want to file for a protective/restraining order, contact the qualified and experienced attorneys at Kessler & Solomiany, LLC today at (404) 688-8810.