The Arizona Court of Appeals recently addressed the question as to whether the issuance of an order of protection requires actual physical violence. In its recent decision in Michaelson v. Garr, the Arizona Court of Appeals stated that actual physical violence is not necessary for a court to issue an order of protection.
Michaelson and Garr broke up in September, 2012. Michaelson received an order of protection in October, 2012. Garr later requested a hearing on the order of protection. At the hearing, Michaelson never claimed that Garr committed any acts of physical domestic violence. She testified that Garr was harassing her. On September 26, 2012, he sent her over 60 unwanted text messages, and on October 4, 2012, he called her employer, identified himself as an attorney, and gained access to her work schedule. He then sent her a text message stating that he "had all the information he needed" to know when she was at work and when she was at home. Michaelson also testified that she refused to accept flowers that Garr had sent her at work on October 15, 2012, and that Garr had sent her a text message stating that God brought them together and only God could separate them. After considering the testimony and evidence, the trial court kept the order of protection in place. Garr appealed.
On appeal, Garr argued that there was no specific allegation of abuse. The Court of Appeals, in affirming the trial court’s decision, noted that a court must keep an order of protection in place if the plaintiff proves by a preponderance of the evidence (i.e., more likely than not) that "there is reasonable cause to believe . . . [that] [t]he defendant may commit an act of domestic violence." Arizona law broadly defines domestic violence in the context of a romantic relationship and includes a wide array of harassment by "verbal, electronic, mechanical, telegraphic, telephonic, or written" communication. Therefore, actual physical domestic violence is not a requirement to issue an order of protection.
Therefore, the belief that someone has to actually commit a violent act in order to be subject to an order of protection is incorrect. Harassment alone is enough to issue an order of protection.