If you have not had any luck with teachers, principals or other authorities when dealing with a bully, your next step might be to file a civil restraining order (especially if the bully has been a physical threat to you, your child or your property).
If you live in the state of California, here is how the process works:
First, you need to notify the bully that you are filing a request for a restraining order
If the bully is a minor, you need to notify his/her parents. This can be done by phone, text, email, have someone tell them in person, but it must be done no less than 24 hours before the time of the ex parte hearing (ex parte means that the judge doesn’t have to hear both sides to make a decision – at least for the temporary order). In our jurisdiction, ex parte hearings are heard at 11 am every day, so I would need to have notified the bully and/or his/her parents by 11 am the day before. You will need to fill out a form, called the DECLARATION RE: NOTICE FOR EX PARTE HEARING. This is a local form that every jurisdiction does slightly differently, but it must be filled out and presented to the court recorder an hour before the ex parte hearing explaining either how you notified the other party or why you were not able to notify the other party.
Next, you will need to call the court to make your appointment
If you look in the phone book under “government”, then under “county” or “city” the phone number can usually be found under “ex parte appointments.” Or, go to California Courts webpage and enter your zip code in the box on the right side of the page that says “court locations”. This will take you to the webpage for the courts in your jurisdiction. Find the link to contact information and look for the phone number for general information. When you call explain that you want to file a “civil harassment restraining order” and the person on the other end should be able to help you get an appointment. Lastly, you could just go down to the courthouse and find the self-help department. There are lawyers and paralegals there who can tell you what forms you need and help you fill out the forms, but they can NOT give legal advice.
Here are the names of the forms you will need to fill out and present to the court recorder an hour before the ex parte hearing
There is no fee for filing these forms as long as there has been violence, the threat of violence or stalking against the victim.
- DECLARATION RE: NOTICE FOR EX PARTE HEARING (varies by jurisdiction)
- CH-100 REQUEST FOR ORDERS TO STOP HARASSMENT (If you are filling this out for a minor, put the child’s name on the line that says “your name” like this: Bud Morris, a minor. Then put your name above the child’s name like this: Teressa Morris, on behalf of. The courts want the forms typed or filled out on the computer. If you fill it out on the computer, you will need to hand write ” a minor” after your child’s name and insert your name and “on behalf of ” above the child’s name. If you are filing against a minor, then you will need to fill out the “name of person you want protection from” the same as above with the child’s name and their parent or guardian’s name.
- Make sure to list on the CH-100 any police reports that you filed against your bully.
- CH-120 NOTICE OF HEARING AND TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER
After you have filled out the forms, you may want to stop by self-help before filing to have them check over your paperwork and make sure nothing is missing or incorrect.
Once you get into the courtroom you wait for the judge to call your name
If you are filing on behalf of a minor, the minor does not need to be present. In fact, I would recommend against it. Most of the time, the person you are filing against will not show up. The judge will read through the paperwork quickly and may ask a few questions. As long as there is cause, the judge will then issue the temporary TRO which is good until the date of the hearing for the permanent order (usually no more than 30 days). You will need to go back to the recorder’s office to pick up the signed order and the forms you will need to have delivered to the bully. You do not deliver these forms yourself. If there has been violence or a threat of violence, the sheriff’s office or police department will usually serve the papers for you free of charge, then file the proof of service for you and mail you back a copy. Check with your jurisdiction to verify.
When you show up for your second hearing
It will probably be similar to the ex parte hearing. If your bully shows up, the judge will probably ask both of you some questions. They are usually basic yes or no questions with regard to the facts of the case. Bring any supporting documentation (especially regarding cyberbullying: bring printouts of Facebook pages, emails, etc.). The judge may or may not ask for these, but it is good to be prepared. As long as everything is pretty straight forward, the judge will usually make his or her ruling on the spot, and if you get a permanent restraining order it will be for 1-3 years, depending on the judge’s decision.
I hope that this information helps you, but remember – nothing replaces a lawyer’s advice.