Torrance area residents are able to apply for various types of restraining orders, including, civil harassment, domestic violence, workplace violence and elder abuse restraining orders. The Torrance Courthouse offers assistance via a self-help center for people who need help filling out their restraining order paperwork, or are not sure if they qualify for a restraining order.
Restraining Order Process in Torrance
The restraining order process in Torrance is generally the same as in all Los Angeles County courts. The person requesting the restraining order is always called “petitioner” and the person the petitioner is seeking to restrain is always called “respondent.” The first step in the restraining order process is for the petitioner to file a request for a temporary restraining order and request a hearing for a permanent restraining order.
In order to file a request for a restraining order, whether civil harassment, domestic violence, workplace violence or elder abuse, the petitioner must fill out the restraining order paperwork and take it to the civil filing window at the Torrance Courthouse. There, the paperwork must be submitted to the civil filing clerk. The clerk will review the paperwork and make sure that all of the required forms have been submitted, and that all of the required information has been entered into those forms. The clerk will also collect the filing fee, if one is required.
All four types of restraining orders may be filed in Torrance:
- Civil Harassment Restraining Orders – harassment is unlawful violence, a credible threat of violence, or a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person that seriously alarms, annoys, or harasses the person, and that serves no legitimate purpose.
- Domestic Violence Restraining Orders – this is the type of order that must be requested if the petitioner and respondent are in a qualifying relationship. If the parties are in a dating relationship, former dating relationship, married, ex spouses, domestic partners, ex domestic partners, siblings, grandparent / grandchild, parent / child, step grandparent / grandchild, step parent / child, or “in laws” of any of the relationships described above.
- Workplace Violence Restraining Order – this type of order can only be requested by an employer on behalf of an employee. Employees who wish to file a for a restraining order request must request another type of order. Unlike other types of restraining orders, a workplace violence order, when requested by an employer, is actually requested by the organization (such as a corporation. non-profit, partnership, or government agency) and not by an individual. Therefore, unlike other types of hearings, a representative of the petitioner must be present instead of an actual person who is a petitioner.
- Elder Abuse Restraining Order – can be requested by or on behalf of any person 65 years or older or by or on behalf of any adult whose physical and / or mental abilities make it impossible for him or her to engage in normal activities. This type of request is unique because it can be requested by a person on behalf of another adult. While civil harassment and domestic violence requests can seek protection for other individuals, those additional protectees are not the primary person seeking protection, as they are in elder abuse requests. Elder abuse restraining orders are also different from other kinds of restraining orders in that they may be requested for financial abuse only. Unless a litigant qualifies for an elder abuse restraining order, the proper way to address financial abuse is through filing a civil lawsuit over damages and possibly requesting an injunction or temporary order (filing a criminal complaint, when appropriate, is also a viable method to redress wrongs by another party).
Usually, filing fees are required in workplace violence restraining orders and civil harassment restraining orders whether the petitioner has not alleged any actual violence or any threats of violence. If a filing fee is required and the petitioner cannot afford the fee, the petitioner can often avoid paying the fee, by filing a fee waiver with their request – Form FW-001. If the judge determines that the petitioner has shown that they cannot afford the filing fee, the court will either waive the fee completely, or order that the fee is reduced to a more affordable amount.
If all documents have been submitted correctly, the clerk will stamp the paperwork and forward it to a judge. The petitioner will be sent to that judge’s courtroom and be asked to wait in the courtroom, or, in some cases, outside in the hall while the judge reviews the paperwork and decides whether or not a temporary restraining order should be granted. The petitioner is asked to stay in or near the courtroom while the judge makes his or her decision because in some cases the judge will want to question the petitioner about the facts and circumstances of their case,or to obtain clarification regarding the allegations in the request.
After reviewing the paperwork, the judge will set the case for a hearing, which usually takes place 21-25 days after the paperwork is filed. If the judge believes that there is a possibility that the respondent could continue or increase the harassment/abuse before the hearing, the judge will grant the temporary restraining order. The temporary restraining order takes effect when the paperwork is served on the respondent, and expires at the hearing. In domestic violence restraining order cases, the temporary restraining order can also contain a section forcing the respondent to move out of a shared residence in order to protect the petitioner.
Once the judge decides whether or not the temporary restraining order is granted, the judge will sign the order and 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. The petitioner is required to attend on the date and time of the hearing, or the matter will be dismissed.
Once the petitioner receives the stamped signed paperwork from the judge, the petitioner must then deliver a copy of the paperwork to the local police station where it will be entered into the CLETS system. Then, the petitioner must make sure that the respondent is properly served with the paperwork. The local sheriff can serve the paperwork for a small fee, or petitioner can hire a licensed process server to serve the paperwork, which is a little more expensive.
The paperwork can also be served by any person over the age of 18 that is not a party to the case, and not an additional person to be protected by the restraining order. Once the paperwork is served, a proof of service must be filed with the court. The proof of service tells the judge that the respondent was served with the order and must appear at the hearing. If the sheriff served the paperwork, the sheriff will draft and file the proof of service. If the petitioner is not able to serve the respondent, the petitioner must still appear at the hearing or the case will be dismissed. The petitioner simply needs to tell the judge that the respondent has not been served and the judge will give the petitioner more time to try to serve the respondent.
Defending a Restraining Order in Torrance
Defending a restraining order in Torrance is similar to defending a restraining order in all Los Angeles courts and in all California courts. The respondent (the individual from whom protection is sought) may call witnesses and introduce documentary evidence to contest the restraining order request made by the petitioner(s), the person or persons seeking protection. In addition to calling witnesses of his or her own and introducing evidence of his or her own, the respondent or his or her attorney may cross-examine any of the petitioner’s witnesses and may challenge any documentary evidence the petitioner brings, with a valid objection (such as hearsay, a lack of foundational evidence supporting the petitioner’s proposed exhibits, and any other legitimate legal reason).
Restraining Order Mediation in Torrance
Some judges at the Torrance Courthouse prefer that cases go to mediation prior to being heard by the judge. The Torrance Courthouse employs qualified mediators who are usually mental health professionals or licensed attorneys who volunteer their time to the court. If there are minor children involved in a domestic violence restraining order case, and the petitioner is requesting that the judge decide anything that relates to custody or visitation, the case must be mediated.
The mediator will meet with the parties separately and explain the process to them. The mediator will then try to draft a settlement agreement that both parties would accept instead of having the judge hear the case. Mediation agreements almost always include clauses prohibiting the parties of contacting each other, and requiring the parties to stay a certain distance away from each other. Mediation agreements can also include additional clauses such as prohibiting the parties from talking about each other in public, requiring the return of certain personal property such as clothes or vehicles, and in rare cases the payment of money such as attorney’s fees to one of the parties. It is important to note that mediation agreements are not restraining orders, and if the agreement is violated, the parties need to go back to court instead of calling the police.
If the parties do not settle at mediation, the judge will hear the case. The parties must be ready to proceed. This means that all witnesses and evidence must be ready to be presented to the judge. The judge will review the evidence, such as photographs, audio and video recordings, witness statements, etc. and hear the parties’ and witnesses testimony. Then the judge will decide whether or not a restraining order should be issues against the respondent. If either party is represented by an attorney they can make a request for attorney’s fees after the judge announces his/her decision. Some judges decide attorneys’ fees requests on the spot, and others prefer to set a separate hearing on attorneys’ fees.
If either party disagrees with the decision, they have the ability to appeal. Appeals usually take about one year to decide, and only evidence presented at the hearing can be used as a basis for an appeal – no new evidence can be presented.
Conduct that would lead to a restraining order request that occurs in the following areas would be heard at the Torrance Courthouse, located at 825 Maple Ave, in Torrance: Alondra Park, Athens, Del Aire, El Camino College, El Camino Village, El Nido, El Porto, El Segundo, Gardena, Hawthorne, Hermosa Beach, Hollywood Riviera, Inglewood (zip codes 90301-90308 and 90397-903980, Ladera Heights, Lawndale, Lennox, Lomita, Manhattan Beach, Miraleste, Moneta, Morningside Park, Palos Verdes Estates, Playa Del Rey, Portuguese Bend, Rancho Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates, Torrance, Walteria, West Athens, and Westchester.
Torrance Restraining Order Resources
Victims of abuse and domestic violence residing in the Torrance area have many resources available to them if they require assistance such as help with restraining orders, temporary or permanent shelters, and counseling.
1736 Family Crisis Center provides cutting-edge programs managed by licensed professionals such as attorneys and therapists for victims of domestic violence. The services provided by 1736 Family Crisis Center include a 24 hour suicide hotline, temporary shelters, abuse prevention information and counseling. 1736 Family Crisis Center has been recognized by Congress with the Congressional Recognition of Excellence Award for its extensive involvement in the community and its work with victims of domestic violence.
City of Torrance Abuse Hotline can be reached at 800-978-3600. The abuse hotline is open 24 hours a day and assists victims of abuse and domestic violence with locating temporary shelters, reporting abuse to the authorities, and provides domestic violence prevention counseling.
Elder Abuse Hotline can be reached at 800-992-1660. This is a 24 hour hotline for victims of elder abuse. This hotline takes reports of elder abuse (physical and financial) and neglect.
Rainbow Services can be reached at 310-547-9349. This program provides free serviced for battered women including, but not limited to child care programs, legal assistance, support groups, therapy and counseling. Rainbow services is bilingual (Spanish).
Victim-Witness Assistance can be reached at 310-222-1208. This program provides a variety of services and assistance for victims of elder abuse as well as for witnesses of elder abuse. The services provided include court escort and support services, assistance with return of personal property, restraining order assistance, assistance with legal issues, and assistance in applying for state programs.