Special Announcement

Posted Thursday, March 26, 2020

Ask for a Gun Violence Restraining Order

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Are You in Danger Now? If you need help right now, call “911.”

You can also call a legal aid or nonprofit in your area.

Ask for a Restraining Order

To ask for a Gun Violence Restraining Order to prevent someone you worry about from having guns and being dangerous to themselves or others, you can:

1. Call the police and let them know you are concerned about someone who is a threat to themselves or others. Based on your report, a police officer can immediately ask a judge for an emergency order to prevent the person from having guns, firearms and ammunition. See section below on Emergency Gun Violence Restraining Order for more information.

OR

2. Go to court yourself to ask a judge for a Gun Violence Restraining Order.

Emergency Gun Violence Restraining Order

An emergency Gun Violence Restraining Order can be requested by a police officer and can be made right away against anyone who is a threat to themselves or others. If approved by a judge, the emergency order will last up to 21 days. After the emergency order is made, there will be a court hearing within 21 days from the time the emergency order was issued by the judge.

At the hearing, a judge could make the emergency Gun Violence Restraining Order last up to 5 years. If you want the order to last longer than 21 days, you should follow-up with the law enforcement agency right after the emergency order is made.  You may be able to give them information that would help the judge make a decision. You may also ask the court for your own Gun Violence Restraining order against the person. (see next section)  

Going to court to ask for a Gun Violence Restraining Order.

Before you start the court process, make sure you qualify for a Gun Violence Restraining Order. 
 

Who can ask the court for a Gun Violence Restraining Order?

Close family member 
To qualify as a “close family member” you must have one of these relationships with the person who may cause harm to self or others:
 
                o Spouse or domestic partner
                o Parent, child, sibling, grandparent, or grandchild 
                o Spouse’s parent, child, sibling, grandparent or grandchild
                o Parent’s spouse, child’s spouse, sibling’s spouse, grandparent’s spouse, or grandchild’s spouse
 
Roommate: Any person who regularly lives in their house now, or within the last 6 months.
 
Employer or coworker of the person who may use a gun (if they have had substantial and regular interactions with the person for at least a year and have obtained the approval of the employer)
 
Employee or teacher of certain schools the person has attended in the last six months, if the employee or teacher has obtained the approval of a school administrator or a school administration staff member with a supervisorial role.
 
Law enforcement officer

What will I have to prove to a judge?

In your court papers, you will need to give facts that would convince a judge of all of the following:
 
1. The person you want to restrain owns or is trying to get guns, 

2. The person poses a significant danger, now or in the future, of personal injury to themselves or to another person; and

3. You need a restraining order because another less restrictive way to protect against the danger will not work, or has been tried but did not work, or is not appropriate.

Do you qualify?

Yes
- You are ready to fill out the forms (or have a lawyer or clinic help you with the forms). Start with Step 1.

No - You may qualify for another type of retraining order. Learn about other types of restraining orders.

I don't know - Your courts self-help center may be able to help you for free. You can also hire a lawyer. Click for help finding a lawyer.

Requesting a Gun Violence Restraining Order

Step 1. Fill Out Your Court Papers and Prepare to File

Step 2.  File Your Court Papers With the Clerk

Step 3.  Get Your Papers Back From the Clerk

Step 4. Have Your Papers Served on the Restrained Person

Step 5. Prepare for Your Court Hearing

Step 6. After Your Court Hearing


Step 1. Fill Out Court Papers and Prepare to File

1. You will need to complete these forms:

  • Form GV-100 (Petition for Gun Violence Restraining Order;
  • Form CLETS-001 (Confidential CLETS Information);
  • Form GV-109 (Notice of Court Hearing) Complete #1, #2 only
  • Form GV-110 (Temporary Gun Violence Restraining Order). Complete #1, #2 and #3 only; and
  • Form CM-010  (Civil Case cover Sheet) (Ask the court clerk if you need this for your court — you may not need it);

The most important  form is Form GV-100. The judge will decide whether to approve (grant) your request for restraining order based on the information you give in item 6 on Form GV-100.

Make sure you give:

  • Detailed information on why you are asking for the restraining order.
  • Why you think the person is dangerous, such as threats made, and violent incidents.
  • Include anything that will help the judge understand why the restraining order is necessary.
  • Include other less serious alternatives that have been tried and not worked. Read Form GV-100-INFO (Can a Gun Violence Restraining Order Help Me?) for more information on what to include.

IMPORTANT: The restrained person will get a copy of every court paper filed except form CLETS-001. If you are staying somewhere you do not want the restrained person to know about and you want to keep the address confidential, do not write it on these papers. You can keep your home address confidential and use a mailing address instead.

2. Have your forms reviewed (optional)
If your court’s self-help center helps people with Gun Violence Restraining Orders, ask them to review your paperwork. They can make sure you filled it out properly before you move ahead with your case.

4. Make at least 3 copies of all your forms
One copy will be for you; another copy will be for the person you want to restrain. The original is for the court.
 

Step 2. File Your Court Forms With the Clerk

Once you have filled out all your forms, you have to file them with the court. "File" means that the court clerk will make the order an official part of the court's record of your case. There is no fee to file your request with the court.

You should file in the county where the person you want the restraining order against lives, or the place where any threats or injuries happened.  If you have questions on where you should file, talk to a lawyer or your local self-help center.

Once you know which county to file in, find out which clerk's office you need to file at (there may be multiple clerk's offices in your county). Every court is different but in most counties you file a Gun Violence Restraining Order in the Civil Division. Ask the self-help center or the court clerk if you are unsure.

Step 3. Get Your Papers Back From the Clerk

Once you turn in your court papers to the clerk, a judge will review them. In some courts, the judge will speak to you to get more information about your request. In all cases, you will have to return to pick up your court papers. Ask the clerk when you should return to pick up your court papers. It could be the same day or next business day. 

If the judge signed form GV-110, this means you have a temporary restraining order. The orders granted on form DV-110 only lasts until your court date. You must go to your court date if you want a long-term restraining order. Look at the first page of Form GV-109  (Notice of Court Hearing) to see when and where your court date is.

If the judge did not grant you a temporary restraining order, the judge can still grant you a restraining order at your court date. You must go to your court date for the judge to grant you a restraining order. Look at the first page of Form GV-109 (Notice of Court Hearing) to see when and where your court date is. If you do not want to go forward with your request, you can tell the court clerk that you want to cancel the court hearing. or dismiss your case by filing Form CIV-110  (Request for Dismissal) or simply do nothing, which will keep likely end the case at the time of the hearing. If you want, you can refile your request in the future.
 

Step 4. Have Your Papers Served on the Restrained Person

After you get a court date for your restraining order, you must have someone give a copy of your court papers to the restrained person (the other side). This lets the other side know that a case was filed, what they can do to answer back, and what they can't do (if there's a temporary restraining order). This is called serving papers.

You are not allowed to serve your own papers. It is a good idea to ask the sheriff or marshal to serve the papers. There is no fee for the sheriff or marshal to serve your papers. Serving a Gun Violence Restraining Order can be very dangerous, therefore it is not a good idea to have anyone but law enforcement do it. Also, if a Temporary Restraining Order was granted, a law enforcement officer should take all of the person’s guns, magazines and ammunition when serving your court papers.

1. You will need to give the sheriff a copy of your court papers. Look at page 2 on form GV-109 to see what court papers you have to serve on the other side- these are the forms you will have to give to the sheriff. 

The sheriff may have paperwork that you need to fill out, too. If you need help completing forms, you may want to bring someone with you when you go to the sheriff’s office.

Contact the sheriff’s department in the county where the person you want protection from is located to find out where to go to give them your court papers. In Shasta or Trinity county, contact the marshal for service. 

2. Get paperwork back from the sheriff
The sheriff should give you paperwork after they serve (or try to serve) your forms. Check in with them, if you do not receive anything at least a week before your court date.

If the sheriff was able to serve your court papers on the restrained person, an officer will complete a Proof of Service form. This form proves to the court that the other side was served and will allow the court to move forward with your case. Make sure this form is filed with the court. If the sheriff did not file it, you will have to take it to the court clerk.

If the restrained person was NOT served or not served by the deadline, go to your court date and ask the judge to give you more time to serve the other person and for a new court date.  This request is called a “continuance.”  If you get the continuance and a Temporary Gun Violence Restraining Order was issued (the judge signed Form GV-110 ), the temporary restraining order will be extended until the new court date.

A new order will have to be signed by the judge on Order on Request to Continue Hearing (Form GV-116 ). Form GV-116 and all the other court papers you previously filed will need to be served on the restrained person. ​
 

Step 5. Prepare for Your Court Hearing

Tips

Court can be stressful. Here are some things you can do to be prepared:

You can make notes and read from them at your court date. Use your notes to make sure you tell the judge about everything that supports your case.
 
Bring all the court papers you’ve received or completed for this case. If there are any other documents you have as evidence, you must bring three copies of each piece of evidence with you to your court date. One copy is for you, one is for the other side and one is for the court.

Some of the information or evidence that can help your case may be: 
  • Information about number and types of firearms owned by the person you are concerned about;
  • Written statements from witnesses;
  • Photos;
  • Police reports;
  • Damaged property or photos of damaged property;
  • A threatening letter, email or telephone message from the person you want restrained.
You can bring witnesses to your court date. Witnesses may or may not be allowed to speak, but you can also bring a witness’s written statement (declaration) of what he or she saw or heard. You can use a Declaration (Form MC-030) for any statements of witnesses that support your side of the story. You should file and serve witness statements at the same time that you file your Response to Petition for Gun Violence Restraining Order (Form GV-120). If you do not have time to file them ahead of time, then take the original plus 2 copies to your court hearing.
 
Bring a support person with you to court. This person may not be able to sit with you when the time comes to talk to the judge but the person can sit with you while you wait for your case to be called.
 
If you do not speak English well, ask the clerk for an interpreter for your hearing date. Get tips to help you work with a court interpreter.
 
If you are deaf, hard-of-hearing, or have another disability, ask for an interpreter or other accommodation. For more information for persons with disabilities and a form to ask for an accommodation.
 

What to expect in court

There may be other cases set for the same time as your case. This means that you may be in court for several hours. If you have children, make sure to arrange for childcare. Some courts have a Child Waiting Room Call the courthouse to find out if this is available. 
 
Make plans to arrive early. If you are late, the judge may decide on your case without you there.
Think about traffic, where to park, or how to get there on public transportation.
Write down the phone number of the courtroom clerk. In case of an emergency, you can call and tell the clerk that you may be late.
When your courtroom opens, go in and tell the clerk or officer that you are present.
Do not sit next to or talk to the petitioner

Follow Courtroom Rules

Rules are usually posted outside the courtroom, but here are some common rules:
  • Do not bring food or drinks 
  • Turn off or silence your cell phone 
  • Do not wear a hat or sunglasses on your head 
When speaking to the judge:
  • Refer to the judge as “your honor” or Judge 
  • Don’t interrupt anyone who is speaking
  • Wait until it's your turn to speak and let the judge know you want a chance to speak
When your case is called 
When the judge calls your case, you will sit at a table at the front of the courtroom. Someone, usually the bailiff or a clerk, will tell you which table to sit at. 

The judge will ask who you are
The judge will ask you and the other side to say your names. Then, you may be asked to swear to tell the truth. 
 
The judge will hear from both sides
You and the other side will have a chance to present your case. This is when evidence will be shared and witnesses will testify.

The judge will make a decision
If the restraining order is denied, the restraining order case is finished. Any temporary restraining order that was granted should automatically expire right after your court date. 
 
If the restraining order is granted, see Step 6 for more information.
 

Step 6. After Your Court Hearing

What you need to do next depends on what happened in court

If the judge approved your request, follow these steps:

1. Complete the forms: Fill out Form GV-130 (Gun Violence Restraining Order After Hearing or Consent to Gun Violence Restraining Order​).

2.  Have the forms signed by judge and filed: Give Form GV-130 to the court clerk (or the judge) and the judge will sign it.  Make sure the clerk files it after it is signed by the judge.

3. Have the restrained person served with a copy of Form GV-130.

  •  If the restrained person was at the hearing, you are not required to serve the restrained person with a copy of Form GV-130. But it is a good idea to have it served by a law enforcement officer in case the restrained person still has guns or ammunition.
  • If the restrained person was not at the hearing, have a law enforcement officer, a police officer or sheriff, serve Form GV-130. This must be done in person and NOT by mail. Ask the law enforcement officer to complete the Form GV-200 (Proof of Personal Service). Make sure this form gets filed with the court.  It is a good idea to keep a copy of the proof of service and your restraining order at all times.
  • The restrained person must turn their guns, magazines, and ammunition into law enforcement, or have them stored with a licensed gun dealer. The restrained person also will not be able to legally purchase any guns, ammunition or magazines. If the restrained person has not turned in their guns or ammunition within 24 hours of being served with the order, you can call police and ask them to help.

4. Pay attention to when the order expires. If before it expires you still think there should be a Gun Violence Restraining Order, you can ask to renew it for another one to five years. 

Learn more about how to renew your restraining order.

If the judge did NOT approve (denied) your request, some advice.

If the judge did NOT approve your request, you don’t have any other steps to take unless the judge ordered you to do something. Your case is finished.

For additional resources to assist you or a family member in crisis:

  • Call 211 for local social service resources that can help you and your family
  • Contact local law enforcement if you continue to be afraid the person may harm themselves or others
  • Call National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255.
  • Call National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
  • Review the information at Dementia and Gun Safety

If the judge gave you a new court date:

1. Make sure you go to your new court date if you still want a restraining order.

2. Have the judge sign Form GV-116 (Order on Request to Continue Hearing) and file the form with the clerk. This is a new order with a new court date and possibly an extension of a Temporary Gun Violence Restraining Order. If you got a new court date because you requested it and still need to serve the other person, follow all the directions for service in Step 3.
 

Getting Help

Your city or county may have free legal help for Gun Violence Restraining Orders. Click for help finding a legal aid agency in your area.

Your court’s self-help center may also be able to help you with a Gun Violence Restraining Order.

Self-Help Centers can give you free legal information but not legal advice.

You may also be able to get help from one of these links:

  • Click for help finding a lawyer
  • While Gun Violence Restraining Orders do not address abusive or harassing behavior, you may be able to get some help if domestic violence is a concern by contacting a local agency: Local domestic violence agencies