Attorneys Kayla Weaton and Keren Goldenberg represented a mother and son whose neighbor tried to get harassment prevention orders against both of them. On two different days, in two different courts, two different judges declined to issue these orders against our clients.
A harassment prevention order (HPO) is a restraining order available to individuals who do not have a dating or family relationship. The requirement is that the person applying for the order show that the defendant committed 3 or more acts that were cruel and done intentionally to cause fear, intimidation, abuse or damage to property and did in fact cause fear, intimidation, abuse or damage to property. Alternatively, a harassment prevention order is available if the person requesting protection alleges that s/he was the victim of sexual assault, stalking, or criminal harassment.
Most HPOs involve neighbors seeking HPOs against neighbors, which was the case here. Restraining orders are civil orders, which means they don’t show up on standard background checks or give the recipient of the order a criminal record. Sometimes they are necessary or at least helpful to keep someone away from another person who they are harassing or intimidating, but they can also be used abusively. False information can be provided to get such an order, and then all it takes is a false accusation of violating the order to face serious criminal charges. Attorneys Weaton and Goldenberg litigate restraining orders aggressively because we know how detrimental false claims of harassment can be on our clients.