It's well known among Arizona family lawyers that Arizona courts have been given broad powers to grant an Order of Protection. Just how broad?
Would you believe haranguing with sappy love notes and assault with unwanted bouquets? In a situation whose facts could have come from an article of "The Onion" (http://www.theonion.com/articles/romanticcomedy-behavior-gets-reallife-man-arrested,757/), a local man whose romantic gestures were rejected by his ex-fiancée recently lost his court battle to have an Order of Protection against him dismissed.
William Garr and Julie Michaelson were engaged to be married until Ms. Michaelson broke off their engagement in September, 2012. Mr. Garr was undeterred, and over the course of the next two weeks, Mr. Garr sent flowers and several dozen text messages to Ms. Michaelson trying to patch up their relationship and also called her employer to ask for her work schedule.
Ms. Michaelson responded by getting an Order of Protection against her former fiancé. Under the terms of that order, Mr. Garr could not contact or approach Ms. Michaelson and also could neither own nor possess firearms or ammunition. He asked for a hearing to contest the order and at the hearing, Ms. Michaelson agreed that Mr. Garr had never done anything violent or threatening, but argued that he had been harassing her and that his harassment constituted domestic violence.
The trial court agreed with Ms. Michaelson and upheld the order. Mr. Garr appealed the decision to a higher court, which ruled in May, 2014 that the trial court had been correct. In the Appeals Court's words, "...the term 'domestic violence' is broadly defined in § 13-3601(A) and includes a wide array of criminal acts as well as harassment by 'verbal, electronic, mechanical, telegraphic, telephonic, or written' communication." Michaelson v. Garr, No. 1 CA-CV 13-0302 (Ariz. App., 2014).
Orders of protection are always tricky, no matter which side of them you're on. As this case shows, a wide variety of conduct can trigger a protective order, even conduct which is not obviously criminal, harmful, or threatening. At the same time, there are cases where serious harm could have been avoided if a protective order had been obtained in time. Whether you believe you need an order of protection or you believe one has been taken out against you unfairly, it's critical to know your rights and get the help of an experienced and understanding attorney. At Donaldson Stewart, P.C., our family law attorneys offer free 30-minute consultations to all potential new clients, so if you think you can benefit from our services, please contact us at 480-792-9770 or by email on our website.