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Law Enforcement and Safety


Restraining Orders

A restraining order is a temporary court order that prohibits a person from contacting or approaching a specific person.

How to File for a Restraining Order

For you to file a restraining order, the perpetrator must have committed at least two acts of stalking, harassment or other threatening behavior in the past 90 days.

Victim Services can help you complete the paperwork to file for a restraining order. You'll contact the Magistrate's Office in the county where the perpetrator resides to find out how to get the necessary paperwork. There is no fee to obtain paperwork or file the request.

What Happens After You File

  1. The perpetrator will be served with your complaint and a hearing date will be set.
    The date will be set for 5 to 15 days from the date your paperwork was filed. The defendant MUST be served before the hearing can take place.
     
  2. You and the defendant will be able to testify at the hearing.
    The hearing will take place before a judge. You and the defendant may appear with or without attorneys. The judge will decide if there is cause to sign the restraining order.

  3. After the hearing...
    If the restraining order is signed, you will decide how to resolve the circumstances that warranted the hearing in the first place: criminal charges, changing locks and/or your phone number, making a safety plan and other steps to protect yourself.

  4. If a restraining order is granted, make several copies and leave them with people you trust. Give a copy to USCPD and the Columbia Police Department.

Duration of a Restraining Order

A restraining order is good for six months. To extend the order, you'll need to contact the Magistrate's Court where it was issued to get a renewal hearing.