Restraining orders in Norwalk are filed in much the same way that restraining orders throughout Los Angeles County are filed and handled. While there are some differences, much of the process is the same. The same types of restraining orders are filed in Norwalk as are filed in all of California:
Civil Harassment Restraining Orders – harassment must be actual violence, a credible threat of violence, or a knowing and willful course of conduct. To qualify for a restraining order, the conduct must be directed at a specific person and must harass, annoy, or seriously alarm the person who it is directed at. The conduct must serve no legitimate purpose and must reasonably cause substantial emotional distress. Civil harassment orders, along with domestic violence restraining orders, are the most common types of restraining orders that are requested in California. Civil harassment restraining orders are generally the “catchall” type of request because they encompass all requests from petitioners that do not qualify for any of the other three types of orders, and require no special relationship between the petitioner and respondent and do not require the petitioner to meet any age or disability-related conditions.
Domestic Violence Restraining Orders – this type of order must be filed if the request is made against married partners, cohabitants, ex cohabitants, domestic partners, ex spouses, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, and “in laws.” If a civil harassment or other type of order is improperly filed because the request should have been a domestic violence restraining order request, the petitioner may be forced to re file the request and begin the process again. This is yet another reason to always have the assistance of an experienced restraining order attorney when requesting a restraining order.
Elder Abuse Restraining Orders – can be filed by or on behalf of any person who is 65 years or older or any other adult whose physical or mental disabilities prevent him or her from engaging in normal activities. This type of order differs from others because individuals can request a restraining order on behalf of another adult. An elder abuse restraining order is the only type of restraining order that can be filed because of financial abuse. Further, individuals who request an elder abuse restraining order can request those orders as a result of financial abuse (this is the only type of the four commonly filed restraining orders based on abuse that can be filed because of financial abuse). Parties who do not qualify for an elder abuse restraining order (either because of age or disability) are required to file a civil lawsuit and seek an temporary order or injunction for immediate relief related to financial wrongs (the criminal justice process is also a viable option of the conduct rises to the level of a crime).
Workplace Violence Restraining Orders – this type of order can only be filed by an employer on behalf of an employee. Employees who wish to file restraining order requests themselves must file another type of request, usually civil harassment restraining order requests. It is a procedural mistake to file a workplace violence restraining order request if one is employee filing a request on his or her behalf against a co-worker or a superior. One employee who wishes to request a restraining order against another employee or co-worker should file a civil harassment restraining order (unless an elder abuse restraining order or domestic violence restraining order would be appropriate).
Below is a description of the restraining order process in Norwalk, including information about filing and the mediation process. Below the discussion about the mediation process is a list of restraining order resources that Norwalk offers.
Norwalk Restraining Order Process
When the request for a restraining order is filed, a clerk in the civil filing office will review the paperwork for to make sure that all of the required information is filled out. The clerk will also determine if a filing fee is needed. Domestic violence and elder abuse restraining orders never require a filing fee, while civil harassment and workplace violence restraining orders sometimes require a filing fee of $435.
Once the clerk accepts the restraining order paperwork, the paperwork will be sent to an available judge to review. The judge will review the claims contained in the paperwork and decide whether or not a temporary restraining order should be granted. The filing party (the petitioner) will be asked to stay in the courthouse while the judge reviews the paperwork so that the judge can speak to the filing party if necessary in order to get clarifications or additional information that is important in deciding whether or not a temporary restraining order is granted. The judge can choose to issue a temporary restraining order requiring that the other party (the respondent) not to contact the petitioner, not to come within a certain distance of the petitioner, and in cases involving domestic violence where the parties live together, that the respondent immediately move out of the shared home.
After the judge makes his decision and signs the paperwork, the clerk will give the petitioner three copies of the paperwork. The paperwork will contain information regarding the temporary restraining order, such as whether or not it was granted, and if so, what are the details of the temporary restraining order. The paperwork will also contain a hearing date where both parties must be present to argue their case.
It is up to the petitioner to make sure that the paperwork is properly delivered to the local police department. If a temporary restraining order was granted by the judge, one copy of the paperwork must be delivered to the local police department on the same day that the temporary restraining order is granted. The judge may require that the clerk do this, or the petitioner may be directed to do this themselves.
The petitioner is also required to serve a copy of the paperwork on the respondent. If the petitioner wants the sheriff to serve the respondent with the restraining order, a fee will apply. The restraining order can also be served by a private process server or by any third party who is not a part of the case and is over 18 years of age. Once the paperwork is served, a proof of service must be filed with the court or brought to the hearing.
Civil harassment cases in Norwalk are sometimes referred to mediation. Mediation is also sometimes, but not always, available for the other types of restraining orders – domestic violence, and workplace violence. It is up to the judge whether to refer a case to mediation. Some judges choose to have every case mediated before they are heard by the judge, and other judges will evaluate each case on an individual basis to see if mediation would be appropriate or useful to the parties.
Once a case is sent to mediation, a mediator is assigned to the case. Mediators are usually experienced attorneys, retired judges, or mental health professionals who volunteer their time in order to help resolve restraining order cases. The mediator will meet with each of the parties separately to discuss the dispute, the facts, and the evidence. The mediator will then explain the benefits and drawbacks of settlement, and will attempt to fashion an agreement between the parties. Usually the agreement will require that the restraining order is dismissed, and that the parties are to stay away from each other and refrain from contacting each other.
Sometimes (rarely), the settlement will request payment of attorney’s fees, if any were incurred by the parties, as well as for the exchange and return of property such as vehicles, pets, clothing, and other personal items. Settlement agreements can also include a confidentiality clause that prevents the parties from revealing the contents of the agreement to any third parties, unless required to do so by law (there are also exceptions for attorneys, and other professionals, such as tax preparers, if applicable), and a non-disparagement clause, which prevents the parties from talking about each other with anyone else.
Settlements can be extremely beneficial to both parties in a restraining order case. For the petitioner, a settlement means that the other party has voluntarily agreed to stay away and to stop all contact. This can be preferable to having a judge decide the case, because if a judge denies the restraining order, the respondent can become emboldened by their victory and continue the harassment of the petitioner. For the respondent, and agreement to stay away and stop contacting the petitioner is preferable to losing a restraining order case because the settlement agreement does not get reported to the police and does not appear on the respondent’s public record, while a restraining order will be entered into the CLETS database and be visible to anyone who does a background check on the respondent.
Norwalk requires that the parties referred to mediation make a good faith effort to resolve their case. This means that the parties must make a reasonable effort to put their differences aside and resolve the case without having to proceed with the restraining order hearing. If, after a good faith effort by both sides to resolve their dispute, the case is not settled at mediation, the mediator will return the case file to the clerk, and the case will proceed to hearing or be continued. If the case is continued, a new hearing date will be assigned, and all temporary orders will remain in effect until the new hearing date.
If the restraining order case goes in front of the judge, the parties are required to have their evidence and witnesses ready at the time of the hearing. Most judges in Norwalk will require the parties to exchange their evidence, so it is usually a good idea to bring three copies of any documents the parties wish to present to the judge – one copy for themselves, one copy for the other party, and one copy for the judge. If a party plans on presenting any video or audio to the judge, it is up to that party to make sure that they bring video/audio equipment such as a laptop. The court will not provide a laptop or speakers. Some judges will agree to look at evidence on a party’s smartphone, but some judges refuse to do that, requiring that the evidence be presented on a larger screen such as a tablet or a laptop.
After the judge questions the parties and reviews the evidence, the judge will make a decision to either grant a permanent restraining order, which lasts between three and five years, or to deny the request for restraining order. If the request for restraining order is granted, and the respondent violates any part of the order they can be arrested and charged with a crime.
Norwalk Restraining Order Resources
Conduct that would lead to a restraining order request that occurs in the following areas would be heard at the Norwalk Courthouse, located at 12720 Norwalk, in Norwalk: Artesia, Bell, Bell Gardens, Bellflower, Cerritos, Cudahy, Downey, East La Mirada, Florence, Hacienda Heights, Hawaiian Gardens, Hollydale, Huntington Park, La Habra Heights, La Mirada, Lakewood, Los Nietos, Mayfair, Norwalk, Pico Rivera, Rose Hills, Santa Fe Springs, South Gate, South Whittier, Studebaker, Vernon, Walnut Park, and Whittier.
The Norwalk area offers many resources for people requiring restraining orders. 211 LA County is an organization that provides referrals to various agencies for people searching for social services and counselors. The site can be searched by zip code or city name. 211 LA County is useful for people searching for information regarding domestic violence such as education, location of shelters, restraining order assistance, health care, crisis intervention and free legal assistance.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline offers counseling and other assistance for victims of domestic violence by providing confidential support and offering crisis intervention, options for next steps and direct connection to sources for immediate safety. The hotline has an extensive database of over 5,000 agencies and resources in communities all across the country. The Language Line offers translations in over 170 different languages. The Hotline is also available to concerned friends and family members who are seeking guidance on assisting a loved one.
Los Angeles County also provides services related to elder abuse restraining orders via the Los Angeles County Community and Senior Services Center, which has an elder abuse hotline – (877) 477-3646. Those requiring in person service in the Norwalk area can go to the Los Nietos Community and Senior Center located at 11640 E. Slauson Ave., Whittier, CA 90606. The Center offers a variety of in person services including assistance in reporting elder abuse to the authorities, and help with filling out elder abuse restraining order petitions.