As an attorney who frequently handles cases involving restraining orders, I receive a lot of questions regarding the procedure for obtaining a stalking protective order. In Oregon, there are essentially three ways to initiate the process:
1. If you are a minor, a guardian ad litem can file for a stalking order on your behalf;
2. If you are adult, you can file for a stalking order on your own behalf;
3. If a police officer has probable cause that you are being stalked, the officer can initiate the process through a citation.
There is no filing fee in Oregon for a person seeking a stalking protective order, unless the person is also seeking monetary damages. In order to file for an order, a person must appear at the Circuit Court in the county where they live, or in the county where the stalking took place and present a petition setting forth the required elements. For a discussion of the required elements, please see my previous blog on this topic here. There is no requirement that the other party (the stalker) be notified of this appearance.
The petition is then presented to a judge, who will decide if there is probable cause that the required elements exist. If the judge believes the proper grounds for an order exist, the judge will issue a temporary stalking protective order. At this point, the other party (the stalker) needs to be personally served with a copy of the temporary order. Depending on your jurisdiction, the court will either set a hearing date automatically, or give the other party 30 days to request a hearing.
If the other party fails to show up for the hearing , the order goes into effect permanently. If the other party does show up, the judge will conduct a contested hearing where each party has the opportunity to testify, presents witnesses, and present evidence. After the hearing, the judge will decide whether or not to enter a permanent stalking order.
Once a stalking order is in place, the other party is prohibited from making further contact. If the other party disobeys the order, they are subject to prosecution under ORS 137.750(1). The first violation is a Class A misdemeanor, or a Class C felony if the party has a previous conviction for stalking, or a previous conviction for violating a stalking order. This means that if there is a second violation of an order, it is a Class C felony. Arrest is mandatory for violating a stalking order.
If you feel that you are a victim of stalking, please contact an attorney, or your local courthouse for more information. If you feel that you are in danger, please contact law enforcement immediately.