What is the legal definition of harassment in Nebraska?
For the purposes of getting a harassment protection order, the state of Nebraska defines harassment as when someone intentionally does multiple things to seriously terrify, threaten, or intimidate you for no reason. Some examples of this could be following, stalking, repeatedly contacting, or physically holding (restraining or detaining) you.1
1 NE R.S. § 28-311.02(2)(a)
What is a harassment protection order? What protections can I get in a harassment protection order?
A harassment protection order is an official court order designed to protect ANY victim of harassment. A judge can issue a harassment protection order to prevent someone from bothering, harassing, threatening, assaulting, molesting or attacking you, trying to control you (or your rights), or communicating with you in any way (i.e. calling, emailing, texting, etc.).1
Note: Unlike a domestic abuse protection order, a harassment protection order cannot give you custody of your children.2
1 NE R.S. § 28-311.09(1)
2 See NE Judicial Branch website’s frequently asked questions page.
What happens when I apply for a harassment protection order?
When you apply for a harassment protection order, there are four things that may happen:
- The judge may sign the protection order “ex parte” which means without a prior hearing and before the other party receives notice. Ex parte orders are typically granted if the judge believes that you would suffer severe harm, loss, or damage before the case could be heard with you and the harasser present;
- The judge could decide that your in your situation, it would be more appropriate for you to have a sexual assault protection order or a domestic abuse protection order and could hold a hearing where the abuser would have to “show cause” why the judge should not issue one of those orders;
- The judge may decide not to give you an ex parte order and instead require you and the harasser to come to court for a hearing; or
- The judge may choose to deny the protection order without a hearing if your petition does not qualify for the requested order.1
If you get the ex parte order, the order is then served to the harasser and s/he has ten days to request what is called a “show-cause hearing” to tell his/her side of the story and ask that the order be dismissed. At this hearing, the harasser must prove to the judge why the order should not remain in effect and you will have to prove why you should keep the order. If the harasser requests a show-cause hearing, the judge will schedule the hearing within 30 days and will notify you and the harasser of the court date.2
Whether the ex parte order was issued or not, the judge will use the hearing to determine if your order should continue or be dismissed.
1 NE R.S. § 28-311.09(7), (8); see NE Judicial Branch website’s frequently asked questions page.
2 NE R.S. § 28-311.09(7)
How long does a harassment protection order last?
How long the ex parte order lasts may depend on whether or not the harasser requests a show-cause hearing once s/he is served with the petition and the order, which is explained in What happens when I apply for a harassment protection order? If the harasser requests the hearing, the judge will use the hearing to determine if the protection order will be canceled or if it will continue for one year. If the harasser does not request a hearing within 5 days of being served with the protection order, the order will remain in effect for one year without having any further court hearings.1 In that case, you would not have to face the harasser in court.
If the harasser was properly served with the ex parte order and s/he does not appear in court for the hearing to contest (fight against) the order, the original service of the ex parte order is considered proper service and s/he does not have to be served again with the order after the hearing.2
1 NE R.S. § 28-311.09(7)
2 NE R.S. § 28-311.09(9)
If the abuser lives in a different state, can I still get an order against him/her?
When you and the abuser live in different states, the judge may not have “personal jurisdiction” (power) over an out-of-state abuser. This means that the court may not be able to grant an order against him/her.
There are a few ways that a court can have personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state abuser:
- The abuser has a substantial connection to your state. Perhaps the abuser regularly travels to your state to visit you, for business, to see extended family, or the abuser lived in your state and recently fled.
- One of the acts of abuse “happened” in your state. Perhaps the abuser sends you threatening texts or harassing phone calls from another state but you read the messages or answer the calls while you are in your state. The judge could decide that the abuse “happened” to you while you were in your state. It may also be possible that the abuser was in your state when s/he abused you s/he but has since left the state.
- If you file your petition and the abuser gets served with the court petition while s/he is in your state, this is another way for the court to get jurisdiction.
However, even if none of the above apply to your situation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get an order. If you file, you may be granted an order on consent or the judge may find other circumstances that allow the order to be granted.
You can read more about personal jurisdiction in our Court System Basics - Personal Jurisdiction section.
Note: If the judge in your state refuses to issue an order, you can file for an order in the courthouse in the state where the abuser lives. However, remember that you will likely need to file the petition in person and attend various court dates, which could be difficult if the abuser’s state is far away.