Q: My ex-boyfriend or girlfriend is constantly harassing me, sending threatening text messages and constantly calling me. What legal action can I take, if any?
A: This is an important question. Let me start with something very simple that I was told by a friend of mine who is an attorney and also a personal security consultant: A restraining order can protect you, but will not keep you safe. You need to be smart about keeping yourself safe, like turning off apps like Foursquare or your GPS on your photos on your smart phone.
You can, and should, apply for a civil harassment restraining order. This is a court order that can protect you if you are being stalked, threatened, harassed or sexually assaulted. This is a simple process, although some people hire an attorney to do it for them. (If the person you want to restrain from contacting you is being charged with a crime, the district attorney will do this for you).
You go to my favorite website, courtinfo.ca.gov/forms, which is run by the Judicial Council of California. You complete form CH-100 and CH-120 and file these with the court. In Sacramento, this is done at the William R. Ridgeway Family Law Courthouse on Power Inn Road. You have to pay a filing fee, but this can be waived by a request to the court.
If you ask for a temporary restraining order, the court will usually rule on it in 24 hours. A hearing will then be set.
You have to have the person served with the papers and notice of the hearing. The sheriff in Sacramento will serve this, or you can have anyone else who is over 18 serve the papers. (You cannot serve your own legal papers).
If the court grants your restraining order, it is good for three years, at which time you can ask for an extension. You then send the order to all police departments that may need to enforce it, such as the Sacramento Police Department, Elk Grove Police Department and others.
Note that if the other person loses, you can ask the court to order him or her to pay your legal fees and costs. And if the order is violated, you can call the police.
The answers in this column do not represent legal advice and do not enter you into an attorney client relationship with the individual answering the questions. If you have a legal issue it is recommended that you contact an attorney.
About the author: Jonathan Stein is an attorney based out of Elk Grove with over 11 years in his own practice. For more information visit jonathanstein.com