November 22, 2019
Domestic Violence: Legal Remedies to Promote Your Safety

Call the Police - Call 911 if you are in danger

When the police arrive, be sure to tell them what happened and show them any injuries (bruises, scrapes, etc.). If you are afraid to show them in front of the person who assaulted you, tell the officer. Make sure to show the polices bruises, etc. on your body under your clothes (stomach, thigh, chest). If you have no injuries, and the abuser is still present, you may still be able to make a private person's arrest. If bruises show up later, go back to the police department and make sure they take photographs.


Emergency Protective Order- available at any time

This is an order which is issued by a judge at a police officer's request. The officer may request the order if s/he believes one or both of the following: (1) you are in immediate and present danger of domestic violence, based on your allegation of a recent incident of abuse or threat by the person against whom the order is sought; and/or (2) a child is in immediate and present danger of abuse by a family or household member, based on an allegation of a recent incident of abuse or threat of abuse.

The police officer will request the order ONLY if s/he believes that the order is necessary to prevent the occurrence or recurrence of domestic violence or child abuse. The order tells the abuser to stay away from you and it may also establish temporary custody orders. The fact that you have left the household to avoid abuse will not affect the availability of the order. It is only valid for 5 court days or 7 calendar days, giving you time to get to court and apply for a Temporary Restraining order.


Temporary Restraining Order

When there has been physical or emotional abuse, threats, stalking, harassment, or other acts of violence, you may apply to the Court for a temporary restraining order.

There is no fee for filing the order, it is free. For help filling out the forms to request a Domestic Violence Restraining Order, please go to

Bay Area Legal Aid's Domestic Violence Restraining Order Clinic
1048 El Camino Real, Suite A, Redwood City, CA 94063
(650) 358-0745

Legal Assistance may also be available at:

Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse (CORA)
PO Box 5090, San Mateo, CA 94402
Office: 650-652-0800
Hotlines: 800-300-1080

Legal Aid Society
The Natalie Lanam Justice Center Sobrato Center for Nonprofits - Redwood Shores
330 Twin Dolphin Drive, Suite 123
Redwood City, CA 94065
Office: (650) 558-0915

Typical restraining orders require that the abuser must do one or more of the following:

  • stop telephoning, striking, harassing or otherwise bothering you, either at your home, your work, or wherever you are;
  • stay a certain distance away (usually 100 yards) from you, your family, your workplace, your children's school or daycare, your car, etc;
  • leave your residence where he or she was living with you (residence exclusion);
  • comply with certain custody and visitation schedules for children of the relationship;


Private Person's Arrest

If a police officer at the scene does not make an arrest, you have the right to make a private person's arrest under certain conditions. If the abuser has left the scene, you may still ask to file a report.


Civil Standby

A civil standby is a service provided by the police department where the police will, upon request, come to a specified address to "standby to keep the peace". This is often a low-priority call and the officer will only remain at the premises for a limited time (at the officer's discretion).


Victim Advocates At The District Attorney's Office

Depending on the severity of the violence committed against you, the police may arrest the abuser and the District Attorney's office may prosecute. Advocates are available at the District Attorney's office to answer your questions and concerns about the criminal justice process.

In the southern part of San Mateo County, call (650) 599-7330;

In the northern part of the county, call (650) 877-5454.


© 2019 Superior Court of San Mateo County