Neighbor disputes can often find themselves in restraining order court as neighbors find the conduct of the other neighbor to be “harassment.” The Court in Bukowski v. Gomez reviewed one restraining order.
Under Code of Civil Procedure Section 527.6, “unlawful harrassment” is a knowing and willful course of conduct’ entailing a pattern of a series of acts over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of purpose; (2) directed at a specific person; (3) which seriously alarms, annoys, or harasses the person; (4) which serves no legitimate purpose; (5) which would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress and actually causes substantial emotional distress to the plaintiff’; and (6) which is not a constitutionally protected activity.
Civil restraining orders must be based upon “clear and convincing evidence.”
Here, the Petitioner filed a restraining order against Respondent, who lived across the street from each other. Respondent believed Petitioner was involved in illegal activity and believed Petitioner and her family were selling drugs from their home (without any evidence or proof). Respondent began to photograph cars coming and going from the property in order to scare visitors away, writing multiple letters to Petitioner’s landlord to demand that they be evicted, following Petitioner in her car, regularly taking photographs and videos of Petitioner and her family, and using a garden hose on Petitioner and her family while they were in their car soaking them and the car interior.
Petitioner requested a restraining order against Respondent; however, there were a number of other cases against each other including a small claims matter involving a Respondent claiming a “false arrest” by Petitioner’s husband.
Respondent argued that his conduct was justified and provide some plausible reasons for doing what he did, including wanting to take photographs of people parked in front of his driveway, self defense arguments, and that Respondent was attempting to protect his property from “suspicious activity.”
The trial court granted the restraining order noting that Respondent had been charged for battery. On appeal, the Court agreed finding that Respondent’s actions did not have a legitimate purpose. Restraining order hearings can be very fact intensive, and different decisions can be made on very minor changes in the facts.
Marinaccio Law handles a variety of civil restraining orders including neighbor disputes, landlord-tenant matters, and employee-employer disputes. Please contact Anthony to discuss your matter at 818-839-5220.