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Know the Laws: Hawaii

UPDATED October 5, 2016

Injunctions Against Harassment (District Court)

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This is a civil order issued to protect someone from harassment committed by a non-family member or a non-household member.

Basic info

back to topWhat is the definition of harassment for the purposes of getting an injunction against harassment?

For the purposes of getting an injunction against harassment from the district court, “harassment” is defined as:

  1. physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the threat of immediate/likely physical harm, bodily injury, or assault; or
  2. a pattern of behavior that seriously and continuously alarms you, serves no legitimate purpose, and causes you to reasonably suffer emotional distress.*  
* HRS § 604-10.5(a)

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back to topWhat is an injunction against harassment?

A district court can issue an injunction against harassment (and initially, a temporary restraining order) if there has been harassment against you by anyone who you do not have a family or household member relationship with.*  Therefore, if you were not granted an order of protection because the person harassing/abusing you is not a “family or household member,” you may be able to seek protection through an injunction against harassment.  A typical example of a person who falls under an injunction against harassment is a neighbor, co-worker or schoolmate.

* Hawai'i State Judiciary website

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back to topWhat kinds of injunctions against harassment are there? How long do they last?

There are two types of injunctions against harassment you may be granted: a temporary restraining order (TRO) or an injunction from further harassment.*

A temporary restraining order (TRO) can last for up to 90 days from the date it is granted.  A hearing will take place within 15 days after the TRO is granted.  If the harasser has not been properly notified before the date of the hearing, the court may set a new date for the hearing, so long as it does not exceed 90 days from the date the TRO was granted.**  The TRO may temporarily prevent the harasser from harassing you.***

An injunction from further harassment can be granted if the judge finds that there is substantial evidence that harassment has occurred.  This injunction can last for up to 3 years.**

* HRS § 604-10.5(c)
** HRS § 604-10.5(g)
*** HRS § 604-10.5(f)

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back to topWhere can I file for an injunction against harassment?

You can file for an injunction against harassment in any district court in the district in which you live.*

* HRS § 604-10.5(c)

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Who can get an injunction against harassment

back to topWho is eligible for an injunction against harassment?

You can file for an injunction against harassment against someone who has committed harassment against you or if you experience threats of harassment, which make it very likely that acts of harassment may happen at any moment.*  However, the harasser must not be a family or household member, which means that the harasser cannot be:

  • your current or former spouse;
  • your parent;
  • your child;
  • your relative by blood or marriage;
  • someone with whom you live/lived (Note: This definition does not include adults who lived together as roommates or who were cohabitants only for economic reasons or due to a contract (e.g., a lease); therefore, you may be able to file for an injunction against harassment against a roommate or cohabitant);
  • someone with whom you have a child in common;
  • your current or former dating partner;** or
  • your current or former reciprocal beneficiary (a person with whom you have significant personal, emotional, and economic relationships, but are prohibited from legally marrying).***

If the harasser falls into one of these categories above, you may have to apply to the family court for an order for protection instead.  Please see our Orders for Protection due to Domestic Abuse (Family Court) page for more information.

* HRS § 604-10.5(d)
** HRS § 586-1
*** HRS §§ 586-1; 572C-2

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back to topCan I get an injunction against harassment against a same-sex partner?

No.  Injunctions against harassment cannot be filed against current or former dating partners, a spouse or ex-spouse, someone with whom you live/lived romantically, or someone who is considered to be a "reciprocal beneficiary."*  For information on filing for an order for protection against a same-sex partner in family court, please see our Orders for Protection due to Domestic Abuse (Family Court) page.

* HRS § 586-1

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back to topCan I get an injunction against harassment if I’m a minor?

If you are 17 or younger and unmarried, one of your parents or a legal guardian needs to come with you to file.  If you are under age 18 and married, then you can file for it in your own name, on your own.  Note: If you are unmarried but you cannot have a parent or legal guardian come with you, you can explain why in your petition.*

If the harasser is a minor, the harasser’s parent or guardian should be named as the “respondent” on the harasser’s behalf.*  

* Hawai’i State Judiciary website

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back to topHow can an injunction against harassment help me?

An injunction against harassment can prevent the harasser from:

  • assaulting you or causing you physical harm/bodily injury;
  • threatening to cause physical harm, bodily injury, or assault which you believe is likely to occur;
  • intentionally directing behavior at you that alarms or continuously bothers you while having no legitimate purpose, leading you to suffer emotional distress;*
  • contacting or threatening you or anyone who resides in your home;
  • calling you;
  • entering or visiting your home, including the yard or garage; or
  • entering or visiting your place of employment.**
* HRS § 604-10.5
** Hawai’i State Judiciary website PDF of Petition

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back to topHow much does an injunction against harassment cost? Do I need a lawyer?

There are no fees to file for an injunction against harassment.*  The judge may also order the losing party to pay for the winning party’s court costs and attorney’s fees.

Although you do not need a lawyer to file for an injunction against harassment, it may be helpful to have a lawyer.  This is especially important if the harasser has a lawyer or if the case is going to trial.  Even if the harasser does not have a lawyer, it is recommended that you contact a lawyer to make sure that your legal rights are protected.

If you cannot afford a lawyer but want one to help you with your case, you can find information on legal assistance on our HI Finding a Lawyer page.

* HRS § 607-2.5

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Steps for getting an injunction against harassment

back to topStep 1: Go to the district court to begin the filing process.

A petition for an injunction against harassment must be in writing and state that a past act(s) of harassment has happened or that threats of harassment are so strong that it is likely that harassment will happen.*

You can apply for an injunction against harassment by going to one of the following locations:

  • O’ahu –Honolulu District Court, Regular Claims Division, located at 1111 Alakea Street, third floor, (808) 538-5151
  • Maui – Service Center, located at 2145 Main Street, room 141A, (808) 244-2706
  • Hawai’i – Administration and Services Section, 777 Kilauea Avenue, Hilo, (808) 961-7430
  • Kaua’i– Civil Division, located at 3970 Kaana Street, Ste. 207, (808) 482-2303
Hours: 7:45 a.m. through 3:00 p.m. (except for Kaua`i, which is 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.,); Monday through Friday, except for holidays. No appointment is necessary.

Note: It may be useful to bring identifying information about the harasser such as a photo (which may be used in serving the order to respondent), addresses of residence and employment, a description and plate number of the harasser's car, and information about his/her gun ownership.

* HRS § 604-10.5(d)

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back to topStep 2: Fill out the petition.

Carefully fill out the petition. On the petition you will be the petitioner and the harasser will be the respondent.   Write about the most recent incidents of harassment, using descriptive language (words like "slapping," "hitting," "grabbing," "choking," "threatening," etc.) that fits your situation.  If you recall the specific language used in threats to you, you may want to include that language in the petition.  Include details and dates, if possible.  Be specific.

Be sure to write a safe mailing address and phone number.  If you are staying at a shelter, give a Post Office Box, not a street address.

You can ask that your address be kept confidential.  You may also ask that the school(s) you or your children attend be kept confidential if that would put you or your children in danger.

If you need assistance filling out the forms, you may be able to ask the clerk for help.  You will find links to the forms you will need at our HI Download Court Forms page or from the courthouse in your area.  To find your courthouse, go to the HI Courthouse Locations page.

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back to topStep 3: A judge reviews your petition and may grant you a temporary restraining order.

After you complete the necessary forms, a judge will look at your petition for an injunction against harassment and may grant you an immediate temporary restraining order, known as a TRO, which can last up to 90 days or until your full court hearing.  The judge may ask you questions about your request or s/he may make a decision based on your petition only.  The harasser does not need to be present for you to get a TRO.

If the TRO is granted, a hearing will be scheduled within 15 days.  If the harasser has not been properly notified before the date of the hearing, the court may set a new date for the hearing, as long as it is not more than 90 days from the date the TRO was granted.*

If the judge grants a TRO, the court clerk will give you certified copies of the order.  Ask the clerk to “conform” all copies by stamping the judge’s signature and date on all orders.**  Review the order before you leave the courthouse to make sure that the information is correct.  If something is wrong or missing, you can ask the clerk how you can correct the order before you leave.  Be sure to keep it with you at all times.  You may want to keep copies in your car, at your workplace, or at your child's daycare.

Your TRO is not officially in effect until the respondent receives a copy.**

* HRS § 604-10.5(g)
** Hawai’i State Judiciary website

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back to topStep 4: Service of process

The harasser must be "served," or formally given the petition and the papers that tell him/her about the temporary restraining order (if there is one) and the hearing date for the injunction against harassment.

There are different rules for service depending on which district you live in.  You may have to take the court papers to the police or to a process server.  There also may be fees for having it served.  For more information on the procedure and the fees for service of the order in the First, Second, Third and Fifth circuits, you can go to the Hawai’i State Judiciary website.

Your TRO is not officially in effect until the respondent receives a copy.  You may want to check with the police or the process server who was serving the papers to confirm that the harasser was served.*

* Hawai’i State Judiciary website

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back to topStep 5: The TRO/injunction hearing

If you want to extend your protection past 90 days, you have to attend a hearing to get a final injunction against harassment.  At the hearing, a judge will hear all of the evidence and decide whether to grant you the injunction.*  If the judge does believe that an injunction against further harassment should be issued, (s)he will grant you an order for up to 3 years.**

Although you do not need one, you have the right to bring a lawyer to represent you at the hearing.  If you show up to court and the harasser has a lawyer and you do not, you may ask the judge for a "continuance" to set a later court date so you can have time to find a lawyer for yourself.

See the Preparing Your Case section under the Preparing for Court tab at the top of this page for ways you can show the judge that you were harassed.

* Hawai’i State Judiciary website
** HRS § 604-10.5(g)

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After the hearing

back to topWhat should I do when I leave the courthouse?

There are some things you may want to consider doing after you have been granted an injunction against harassment.  Depending on what you think is safest in your situation, you may decide to do any or all of the following:

  • Review the injunction before you leave the courthouse.  If you have any questions about it, you can try to ask the judge or the clerk.
  • Make several copies of the injunction as soon as possible.  Keep a copy of the injunction with you at all times.
  • Leave copies of the restraining injunction at your work place, at your home, at the children's school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on.  Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work along with a photo of the harasser.  Give a copy of the injunction to anyone who is named in and protected by the injunction and encourage them to make their own copies.
  • You may wish to consider changing your locks (if permitted by law) and your phone number.
  • If the clerk is forwarding the order to law enforcement for service, you may want to call law enforcement to make sure they have received copies of the injunction against harassment from the clerk and to ask for updates on when it is being served. 
  • If you are concerned about your safety when exiting the courthouse, you may want to notify a court officer and ask if s/he would accompany you to your car.
You may also wish to make a safety plan.   People can do a number of things to increase their safety from harassment.  Many harassers obey injunctions, but some do not and it is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe.  For tips on staying safe, go to our Safety Tips for Stalking Victims page.

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back to topI was not granted an injunction against harassment. What are my options?

You may be able to reapply for an injunction against harassment if a new incident of abuse or harassment occurs or if a new threat of harassment occurs after you are denied the injunction.

If you believe the judge made an error of law, you can talk to lawyer about the possibility of an appeal.  Generally, appeals are complicated and you will most likely need the help of a lawyer.  Go to our Filing Appeals page for general information on appeals.

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back to topWhat can I do if the harasser violates the order?

To enforce an injunction against harassment, you are the one who would have to report the violations to the police or the court.  Be sure to write down the date, time, location and what happened when your injunction was violated.

Remember, even if you think it is a minor violation, you can call the police. It can be a crime and contempt of court if the harasser knowingly violates the injunction in any way.  Violating an injunction against harassment is a misdemeanor, which may lead the judge to sentence the harasser to appropriate counseling.  Multiple violations may lead to time in jail.*

When you call the police, they will send an officer out to make a report. Show the police your injunction against harassment. If the police witnessed the violation or if the harasser is still in the area, the police may make an arrest. If the harasser has harmed you or your property, you can show the police any physical injuries or property damage. If the defendant is harassing you by telephone, and your injunction protects you from phone contact, you can keep a log of the time and date of the call, and what was said and report that to the police.

The police may make a report, whether or not the harasser is arrested.  It is a good idea to write down the name of the responding officer(s) and their badge number(s) in case you want to follow up on your case.

Do not contact the respondent. Should the respondent violate your injunction, police and judges may take your report less seriously if you have been in touch with him/her.

If no arrest was made, and/or you are uncertain if there was an arrest, you may want to call the Victim/Witness Assistance Division of the Prosecuting Attorney’s office as soon as possible.  Tell them you made a police report for a violation of an injunction against harassment.

If an arrest was made, it is not necessary to call the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office because they will automatically become involved.  However, if you need information or have questions about what to expect, you contact the Victim/Witness Assistance Division of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office by calling:

  • O`ahu (the city and county of Honolulu)- (808) 768-7401 (this is the general prosecutor's office number)
  • Maui - (808) 270-7695**
  • Hawai`i - Kona: (808) 322-2552; Hilo: (808) 934-3306
  • Kaua`i - (808) 241-1888***
* HRS § 604-10.5(i)
** County of Maui website
*** County of Kaua'i website

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back to topWhat happens to my injunction against harassment if I move?

If you move within Hawaii, your injunction will still be valid.  You may want to contact your local law enforcement to let them know about the injunction against harassment and that you have moved to a new area.  You may also want to call the court where you originally received the injunction to tell them your new address so that they can contact you if necessary.

Additionally, the federal law provides what is called "full faith and credit," which means that once you have a criminal or civil protection order, it follows you wherever you go, including U.S. Territories and tribal lands.*  Different states have different rules for enforcing out-of-state protection orders.  You can find out about your state’s policies by contacting a domestic violence program, the clerk of court, or the prosecutor in your area.

If you are moving out of state, you may want to contact a lawyer in that new state who can give you information about how that state treats out-of state orders.  For information on lawyers in the area, please see our HI Finding a Lawyer page and select the new state to which you will be moving.  If you are moving to a new state, you may also call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit (1-800-903-0111 x 2) for information on enforcing your order there.

Note: For information on enforcing a military protective order (MPO) off the military installation, or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.

* 18 USC § 2265

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