Have you ever experienced a neighbor, an ex-significant other, or person who (for whatever reason) just does not like you, who has physically confronted or intimidated you and who refuses to leave you alone? Have you ever had to call law enforcement to make a report of this person’s behavior? Did the person continue their conduct? If so, such conduct may constitute harassment, and this sort of behavior is not tolerated in Arizona. There are laws designed to stop harassment.
The main legal remedy to stop harassment is to get an Injunction Against Harassment, in which the Court hears the facts regarding the harassing conduct and prohibits the person from having contact with you. Arizona’s law regarding Injunctions Against Harassment provides a way to protect you and your family from such behavior, recognizing one’s ability to be free from harassment, and has put the procedure to protect oneself against harassment in A.R.S. § 12-1809 (the “Statute”).
The Statute sets forth the elements necessary for the Injunction Against Harassment (the “Injunction”) to be issued. Those elements are:
(1) A series of acts over any period of time (a “series” means more than one harassing act);
(2) that is directed at a specific person;
(3) and would cause a reasonable person to be seriously alarmed, annoyed or harassed;
(4) and the conduct in fact seriously alarms, annoys or harasses the person;
(5) and serves no legitimate purpose.
The procedure to obtain the Injunction is straightforward, however, all of the elements will need to be proven in order for the Court to issue the Injunction. First, you will present your facts to the Court and explain why the Injunction must be issued against the other person. This is called a Petition. The first meeting with the Court may be done without the other person present. This is known as an ex parte hearing. If the Court thinks the elements to the Statute have been shown, it will issue an Injunction which is then served on the other person by a Pima County Deputy. At that point, you and the people named in your Petition will be protected at your home, your work, and your children’s school if needed, for one year from the date the Injunction is served upon the harassing person. If the harassing person continues the prohibited conduct after being served with the Injunction, that person may subject themselves to additional sanctions with the Court, including possible criminal liability.
The Statute, however, gives the harassing person a chance to get rid of, or quash, the Injunction. The harassing person may request a hearing in Court where that person will attempt to convince the Court that there should be no Injunction. At this hearing, each side will be allowed to question witnesses and present evidence to the Court. The Court will then decide whether the Injunction should remain in place or whether it should be quashed. The party who wins at this hearing may ask the Court to award them their reasonable attorneys’ fees and legal costs for the suit.
It is important to note that the Court will not look at every interaction between you and the harassing person that has ever occurred. The Court will be concerned with the immediate 12-month period prior to the filing of the Petition. In this regard, it is critical to remember that asking the Court for an Injunction is a time-sensitive matter. If you are being harassed, do not wait to consider whether an Injunction is the legal remedy you need to protect you and your loved ones.