Protective Orders

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metaldetectorIf you feel that you have been, or are imminently about to be: threatened, unlawfully harassed, physically abused, subjected to workplace harassment or victimized by domestic violence, you may come to the Gilbert Municipal Court anytime during public business hours to request a protective order.

When you arrive at the courthouse, you will go through security’s metal detectors. Tell the security guards that you are here for a protective order and they will direct you to the front counter. The clerks at the front counter will then give you a Petition to complete. There is no fee required to get a protective order. You may complete this form in advance and bring it with you, if you wish to save time.

The Petition will ask you to write down specific information about the person who is harassing you, such as name, address, birthdate, and physical description – just complete this information to the best of your knowledge and the judge will determine if there is enough information to proceed. The Petition will also ask you to write down details about the incident(s) of harassment, whether either party has had a protective order in the past, what your relationship is to the other party, who else you’d like to protect, what locations you’d like to protect, and whether you’d like the judge to order the defendant to complete counseling and/or not to possess firearms.

If you have small children with you at the courthouse, you may discuss your case with court staff in the child waiting area of the court lobby so that you may watch over your children while they play.
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After you complete the Petition, a judge will review what you wrote and, as soon as the judge is available to meet with you, the judge will call you into the courtroom to talk to you in person for a moment. The judge will swear you in and then may ask you some questions about what you’ve written. The judge will try to determine whether there is reason to believe that an act of harassment or domestic violence has occurred in the past year or will likely occur if the order is not granted. The judge will then either grant the protective order, issue a modified version of the protective order, set the case for a hearing, or deny the protective order.

If the judge grants the protective order, the judge will send you back to the front counter to receive your copies of the protective order. The clerks will explain to you that you must have the defendant served with a copy of the order before it can be enforced. You will be given the option of having a sworn police officer serve the order, which can take some time, or hiring a private process server, which costs money but can happen quickly in most cases. Once you choose the method of service you prefer, the clerks will provide you with additional instructions. You may then leave the courthouse. Please have security escort you from the building if you are concerned about your safety at this time. Remember that a protective order is only a piece of paper – especially in a domestic violence situation, you should take additional precautions to ensure your safety if necessary.

If the judge sets a hearing date, this means you have raised issues about which the Judge needs more information before deciding whether to grant the protective order. The clerk will give you a hearing date in writing. The clerk will also notify the other party about the hearing date. At the hearing, both parties will have the opportunity to be heard, to present evidence and witnesses, and to question the other party, at the Judge’s discretion. You may be represented by a private attorney at this proceeding if you wish.

If the judge denies the order, in many cases this is because there is a pending case in another court between the two parties. The judge will instruct you to re-file your Petition at the other court. This is legally necessary to ensure that two different courts will not issue inconsistent orders. Also, if a child custody case has been handled by another court, and you are requesting an order that may affect the defendant’s custodial rights, the Gilbert judge may ask you to re-file you request with the other court for jurisdictional purposes.

If you cannot get to the Gilbert Municipal Court during business hours and you feel threatened by domestic violence, call 911 and request a temporary order of protection. The police will connect your call to a judge who is on-call for this purpose.