Question: A court signed an Injunction Against Harrassment to protect me from my ex-boyfriend but I cannot afford to pay a process server to have the injunction served on him. He is still harrassing me but leaves before the police arrive. What should I do?
An injunction against harassment and an order of protection are two options that a victim of domestic violence may pursue for protection. While there is some overlap in the laws, there are differences between the two options and it is important to understand what those are.
To get an order of protection, there must be a close relationship between the alleged victim and the person committing the violent acts (called the respondent in the law) such as a spouse, former spouse, person of the same or opposite sex with whom the alleged victim lives or lived, person with whom the alleged victim is expecting a child, or with whom there is a child in common, or the alleged victim's relative. In addition, the alleged victim will have to show only that the conduct of the respondent falls within the definition of 'domestic violence' as defined by A.R.S. § 13-3601(A) and that the respondent has committed an act of domestic violence generally within the past year, or may commit an act of domestic violence in the future. (A.R.S. § 13-3602(E)). The law allows an order of protection to be granted, even if there has been only a single act of domestic violence committed. No recurring violence is required to obtain this order.
Under Arizona law (A.R.S. § 12-1809), harassment must involve a series of acts. A single incident does not constitute legal harassment. The series of acts:
- Can be spread over a long or short period of time; and
- Must be directed at the alleged victim; and
- Must seriously alarm, annoy, or harass the alleged victim without serving a legitimate purpose; and
- Must be such as would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress; and
- Must actually cause the alleged victim to suffer substantial emotional distress.
A key difference between an order of protection and an injunction against harassment is the relationship between the person doing the harassing and the alleged victim; if the dating relationship does not fall within one of those listed above, an injunction against harassment may be the only option.
The court does not charge a fee for filing a petition for an injunction against harassment. Fees for service of process may be deferred or waived as allowed by law, except that if the injunction against harassment arises out of a dating relationship, there is no charge for service of process. Otherwise, the fee for service of process is due in advance of the service of process.
A copy of the petition and the injunction must be served on the defendant within one year from the date the injunction is signed or it will expire. The injunction is effective on the defendant when defendant is served the copy of the injunction and petition, and the injunction expires one year after service. Forms related to filing a petition against harassment are available at the following locations. They are not available for download but may be picked up at the Self-Service Centers located in the Maricopa County courthouses, Superior Court of Arizona, at:
- Downtown Phoenix: 101 West Jefferson, 1st Floor (East Court Building) in the Law Library
- Southeast (Mesa): 222 East Javelina, 1st Floor (Southeast Court Complex) in the Law Library
Legal Assistance may be available for certain qualified individuals based upon income at:
- Community Legal Services, Inc. 305 South 2nd Avenue P.O. Box 21538 Phoenix, AZ 85036-1538 (800) 852-9075
- Southern Arizona Legal Aid, Inc. 64 East Broadway Boulevard Tucson, AZ 85701-1720 (520) 623-9461
- DNA-People's Legal Services Inc. Route 12 Highway 264 P.O. Box 306 Window Rock, AZ 86515-0306 (800) 789-7287
April 17, 2007