Restraining Orders in Arizona
What You Need to Know About Restraining Orders in Arizona
A restraining order in Arizona is called an order of protection. A restraining order in Arizona may be issued by a Justice of the Peace or a Superior Court Judge if an act of domestic violence has occurred or an order of protection is necessary to prevent an act of domestic violence from happening in the future.
It is an unfortunate reality that domestic violence is a continuing problem for many spouses and children in Arizona. There may be many reasons a judge may issue a restraining order. You, therefore, need to know the basis for requesting a restraining order in Arizona.
The order of protection laws in Arizona, however, provide powerful protective measures for victims of domestic violence, including civil orders of protection preventing contact between the parties and criminal statutes that can lead to the filing of a serious criminal misdemeanor and felony charges for violating a restraining order in Arizona.
It is also unfortunately true that some people attempt to manipulate and take advantage of the restraining order laws in Arizona. These laws are designed to protect victims of domestic violence by using orders of protection as a means to harass an innocent spouse, to wrongfully remove a husband or wife from home, or to obtain an unwarranted advantage in a child custody case.
It is crucial for victims of domestic violence and those falsely accused of being abusive to understand the basics of the process of obtaining an order of protection in Arizona.
Filing a Petition for a Restraining Order
The process typically begins with the person seeking the order of protection filing a petition for an order of protection with the clerk of the court. That petition is filed with forms obtained at the courthouse and is where the person seeking the order of protection informs the judge of the allegations justifying the request for the injunction in Arizona.
Once filed, the person seeking the order of protection goes to a courtroom where he or she will see a Judge regarding that petition. The Judge will then review the request and may question you regarding the incidents alleged in the petition.
If the Judge is satisfied sufficient facts have been alleged to support the issuance of a restraining order in Arizona, he or she will sign the order of protection. The court will file it with the clerk of the court and register that order with law enforcement. You will receive a copy of the Order of Protection signed by the judge.
The court may issue an order preventing the defendant from coming to your home, the school you attend, and your place of employment. A judge can also order the person served with the restraining order to turn over their firearms to local law enforcement.
Serving the Restraining Order
You are then responsible for causing that restraining order to be served upon the other party, either through a private process server or a law enforcement officer. The restraining order (i.e., Order of Protection) is not valid against the other person until it is served on that person.
All Arizona law enforcement officers are authorized to serve restraining orders in Arizona and will be happy to assist you in serving the order of protection. It is helpful to inform the law enforcement officer where the person lives, works, or is likely to be located to assist in serving that order of protection as soon as possible.
Although law enforcement officers should have an electronic record of the issuance of that order of protection, you should always keep a copy of that order of protection on you at all times.
Request a Hearing on a Restraining Order
If you have been served with an order of protection that was based upon false or materially misleading allegations, you have the right to request a hearing to contest that injunction in Arizona. A hearing must be scheduled within ten (10) days unless the order of protection precluded you from returning to your residence in which case the hearing must be scheduled within five (5) days.
The court will conduct an evidentiary hearing, including the admission of testimony from both parties, testimony from other witnesses, and the submission of exhibits to the court. Both sides are entitled to be represented by an attorney at that trial. It is crucial to present all available evidence at that trial because you will not be provided another opportunity to support or contest the order of protection.
Restraining orders in Arizona should not be used to resolve child custody or parenting time disputes. If an order of protection has been issued that impacts your relationship with your child, you have three available options:
1. Request a hearing to modify the protective order;
2. Arrange parenting time through a neutral third person if the protective order does not explicitly prohibit you from having contact with your children;
3. You may file for divorce or legal separation in the Superior Court to establish parenting time.
A person served with a restraining order in Arizona may return to the residence under the supervision of a law enforcement officer to collect his or her items and clothing. You should be aware, however, that law enforcement officers are not able to resolve disagreements regarding which items of property belonging to either or both parties.
Consequences of Violating a Restraining Order
There are serious consequences for violating a restraining order. You should first know that a restraining order is not valid against the defendant until it is properly served on the person who is being restricted from contacting the person who got the restraining order. However, we strongly encourage you not to have any contact with a person who has a restraining order against you even if it has not been served on you.
If you are the person restrained from having contact with someone who has an Order of Protection or Injunction to Prevent Harassment against you and you violate that no contact order after having been served the protective order, you can be arrested for a class 1 misdemeanor for violating the restraining order and may be subject to serving some time in jail and paying court fines and fees. If you continue to violate the protective order, you can be charged with a felony, such as a felony stalking charge, and can spend years in jail.
If your children are on a protective order, you cannot have contact with them either. A protective order trumps any court orders providing for your parenting time with your children. If you request a hearing on an Order of Protection and the court, after that hearing, leaves your children on the protective order, you will not be able to have contact with your children until the Order of Protection expires.
Alternatively, you can choose instead to enforce your parenting time orders and request the judge assigned to your child custody case to remove the children from the protective order.
Fighting a Restraining Order
There are serious consequences of a restraining order. It is always better to be represented by an experienced and licensed Arizona restraining order attorney at any hearing concerning an Arizona restraining order or order of protection. You should be prepared to present all the evidence you have to prove the allegations against you are false accusations if you decide to fight the restraining order.
Our experienced lawyer will go to court with you to petition the Court to issue a restraining order or an order of protection or to dismiss or modify a wrongfully obtained restraining order or order of protection. We are experienced at representing clients in restraining order and order of protection hearings in courts throughout Arizona.
We understand the critical personal impact an act of domestic violence has upon a family and take the impact seriously a false allegation of abuse has upon an innocent spouse’s relationship with his or her children on an order of protection, our job and, in some cases, freedom of subsequent criminal charges are filed.
Chris Hildebrand wrote this article about restraining orders in Arizona to ensure everyone has access to information about restraining order laws in Arizona. Chris is a family law attorney at Hildebrand Law, PC. He has over 24 years of Arizona family law experience and has received multiple awards, including US News and World Report “Top Arizona Divorce Attorneys”, Phoenix Magazine “Top Divorce Law Firms”, and Arizona Foothills Magazine “Best of the Valley” award. He believes the policies and procedures he uses to get his clients through a restraining order case should all be guided by the principles of honesty, integrity, and actually caring about what his clients are going through.
As Seen on CBS News, ABC News, NBC News, and Fox News