“Prevention is better than cure.”
An injunction may be issued by a court to prevent a person from committing acts of harassment. “Harassment” means a series of acts over a period of time that are directed at a specific person and that would cause a reasonable person to be seriously alarmed, annoyed or harassed, and the conduct in fact seriously alarms, annoys or harasses the person and serves no legitimate purpose.
To obtain an injunction against harassment, a person must file a verified petition with a magistrate, justice of the peace, or superior court judge. Any court in Arizona may issue or enforce an injunction against harassment. No fee will be charged for filing the petition.
The petition must contain certain information about the party who is filing it (the plaintiff), as well as the party against whom the injunction is sought (the defendant). It must also include a specific statement showing events and dates of the acts constituting the alleged harassment.
The court will review the petition and any evidence offered by the plaintiff, including evidence of harassment by electronic contact or communication, to determine whether an injunction against harassment should be issued without a further hearing. If the court finds reasonable evidence of harassment of the plaintiff by the defendant within the past year, it will issue an injunction. The court will also issue an injunction if good cause exists to believe that great or irreparable harm would result to the plaintiff if the injunction is not granted before the defendant or his attorney can be notified (and efforts were made to give notice), or there are reasons why notice should not be given. If the court denies the plaintiff’s request, it may schedule a further hearing within 10 days, with notice to the defendant.
If a court issues an injunction against harassment, it may:
- prohibit the defendant from committing acts of harassment
- prevent the defendant from contacting the plaintiff (or other designated persons) and from coming near the residence, place of employment or school of the plaintiff, or other designated locations or persons; and/or
- grant any other relief that is necessary for the protection of the victim.
A party under an injunction against harassment is entitled to one hearing on written request. The hearing will generally be held within 10 days from the date requested, but it must be held at the earliest possible time. After the hearing, the court may change, terminate or continue the injunction in effect.
An injunction against harassment is an official court order. A person who disobeys the injunction may be arrested and prosecuted for the crime of interfering with judicial proceedings, as well as any other crime which he may have committed in disobeying the injunction.
A copy of the petition and the injunction against harassment must be served on the defendant within one year from the date the injunction is signed. If the injunction is not served within one year, it expires. An injunction against harassment is effective on the defendant the moment it is served on him. It expires one year from the date of service. On request of the plaintiff, the court will forward the injunction against harassment to the proper law enforcement agency for service on the defendant.
A police officer may arrest a person if he has probable cause to believe that the person disobeyed or resisted an injunction, whether or not the violation occurred in the presence of the officer.
The above article is an excerpt from Arizona Laws 101: A Handbook for Non-Lawyers, 2nd Edition (Fenestra Books, 2012), by Donald A. Loose, republished with the author’s permission.
Disclaimer: Laws change constantly. Specific legal advice should be obtained regarding any legal matter. The information contained on this website does not constitute legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is created.
Donald A. Loose is an Arizona attorney, and the author of Arizona Laws 101: A Handbook for Non-Lawyers, and Estate Planning in Arizona: What You Need to Know. Mr. Loose is a regular guest on radio shows featuring local newsmaker interviews. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.