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Know the Laws: Georgia

UPDATED September 29, 2016

Stalking Protective Orders

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A stalking protective order is a civil order issued by the court to protect you from the stalking behavior of another person, regardless of your relationship to that person.

Basic information

back to topWhat is the legal definition of stalking in Georgia?

Stalking is defined as when someone does any of the following without your permission for the purpose of “harassing or intimidating” you:

  • follows you;
  • places you under surveillance; or
  • contacts you (in person, by phone, email, computer or other electronic device, etc.).* 
“Harassing or intimidating” you means that the stalker does repeated acts that cause you emotional distress by placing you in reasonable fear for your safety or the safety of a member of your immediate family (and the acts serve no legitimate purpose).  There does not have to be a specific threat of death or bodily injury.*

* O.C.G.A. § 16-5-90(a)(1)

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back to topHow can a stalking protective order help me?

An ex parte temporary order can do any of the following:

  • Order the respondent to stop stalking, harassing you or interfering with you and your immediate family;
  • Order the respondent to stay a certain number of yards away from you;
  • Order the respondent to have no contact, directly or indirectly, with you and your immediate family.*
A final protective order can do any of the following:
  • Order all of the protections listed above;
  • Order the respondent (or you) to get psychiatric or psychological services to prevent continued stalking in the future; and
  • Order the respondent to pay your attorney’s fees (or, if you lose the case, order that you pay the respondent’s attorney’s fees).**
Note: If the stalker is also arrested for stalking, you also have the right to be notified when bail hearings are scheduled and when the stalker is released from custody if you provide the court with a landline telephone number.***

* O.C.G.A. § 16-5-94(d); see GA Superior Court Clerks' Cooperative Authority, petition for a stalking ex parte temporary protective order
** O.C.G.A. § 16-5-94(d); see GA Superior Court Clerks' Cooperative Authority, petition for a stalking twelve month protective order
*** O.C.G.A. § 16-5-93

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back to topWhat types of stalking protective orders are there and how long do they last?

When you file for a protective order, if the judge believes that stalking has happened in the past and that it may likely happen again in the future, the judge can issue a temporary ex parte order to protect you.  An ex parte order can be issued by the court without the presence of the stalker (respondent).  After the court issues an ex parte order, a hearing must be held within 30 days, at which point you and the respondent will have a chance to prove your case, and the judge will decide whether or not to issue a final order.**  A final order will generally last for up to one year.  However, you can later file a motion (legal papers) asking that it be extended for up to three years or permanently.***  For more information on how to extend the order, we suggest that you talk to a lawyer.  Go to our GA Finding a Lawyer page for free and paid legal services.

* O.C.G.A. § 16-5-94(d)
** O.C.G.A. §§ 16-5-94(e); 19-13-3(c)
*** O.C.G.A. §§ 16-5-94(e); 19-13-4(c)

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Who is eligible

back to topAm I eligible for a stalking protective order?

If someone is following, harassing, or intimidating you (in the way explained in What is the legal definition of stalking in Georgia?) and you fear for your safety, you may file a petition for protective order.  You do not need to have an intimate relationship with, or be related to, the person stalking you in order to be eligible for a protective order - you can file against anyone who is stalking you.*

The stalker does not have to be arrested in order for you to be eligible for a protective order from stalking.  Additionally, if you do get a protective order, you can still pursue criminal charges against the stalker.

* O.C.G.A. § 16-5-94(a)

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back to topCan a minor file for a protective order?

No. You cannot file on your own. If you are under 18 years of age, someone over 18 will have to file the petition on your behalf.*

* O.C.G.A. § 16-5-94(a)

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Getting the order

back to topIn which county can I file for a stalking protective order?

You can file for a stalking protective order in the superior court in the county where the stalker lives if s/he lives in Georgia.  If the stalker lives outside of Georgia, you can file in the superior court in the county where you live or where the stalking occurred.*  Note: If the stalking is based on the respondent contacting you through phone, email, computer, etc., the county where you receive this contact is considered to be the place where it occurred (as opposed to the county where the respondent initiates this contact).**

* O.C.G.A §§ 16-5-94(b); 19-13-2
** O.C.G.A § 16-5-90(a)(1)

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back to topWhat are the steps for getting a stalking protective order?

To get a stalking protective order, you will need to fill out and file the proper forms with the clerk’s office at the appropriate superior courthouse.  For the basic steps to filing an order, you can see our Steps for getting a family violence protective orders section.  Also, the Georgia Superior Court Clerks' Cooperative Authority allows you to fill out the stalking protective order forms online here.

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back to topHow does the order get delivered to the respondent?

The sheriff’s department generally delivers the protective order to the respondent/stalker.  You should check with the clerk’s office to see if you have to bring the papers to the sheriff or if the court will deliver them to the sheriff.  You can find contact information for sheriff offices on our GA Sheriff Departments page.

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back to topWhat happens if the respondent violates the order?

If the respondent/stalker violates the protective order in any way, you can call the police to report it.  Violation of a stalking protective order may result in his/her arrest and a criminal charge of aggravated stalking, which is a felony and can result in imprisonment of between 1 and 10 years and fine up to $10,000.00.*

* O.C.G.A. § 16-5-91

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