The defendant is the person against whom a petition for a protective order has been filed. The defendant may ask for a contested hearing to dispute the plaintiff's allegations in the petition.


The plaintiff’s written statement that the defendant has done or may do something wrong but which the plaintiff has not yet proved to be true. For purposes of a protective order, the plaintiff must explain on the petition what happened (or may happen) and why the protective order is needed so the judicial officer can decide whether there is a legal basis to issue the order.

Hearing, contested

At any time while a protective order is in effect, the defendant may file a written request for one contested hearing. The court will schedule the for a particular date and time and will notify the plaintiff of the time and date of the hearing. Each party has the right to be heard, to present evidence, and to call and examine and cross-examine witnesses. At the end of the hearing, the judicial officer can decide to affirm the order, modify the order, or dismiss the order.

Hearing, ex parte

When a plaintiff files a petition for a protective order, an ex parte hearing is conducted by the judicial officer without notice to the defendant. The judicial officer will ask the plaintiff questions to establish the relationship with the defendant. The plaintiff will be asked to explain, under oath or affirmation, what happened and why a protective order is needed. The judicial officer will then decide whether there is a legal basis to issue the protective order.


An order is dismissed (also called "quashed") when a judicial officer orders that an Order of Protection, an Injunction Against Harassment, or an Injunction Against Workplace Harassment is no longer in effect. Only a judicial officer can dismiss an order. Even if the plaintiff and the defendant agree that the order should be dismissed, it is legally valid and enforceable until a judicial officer issues an order dismissing it.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence includes behavior that physically harms, causes fear, prevents a partner from doing what they wish or forces them to behave in ways they do not want. It includes the use of physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional abuse and economic deprivation. Different forms of domestic violence or abuse can occur at any one time within the same intimate relationship. Domestic violence is any behavior the purpose of which is to gain power and control over a spouse, partner, girl/boyfriend, or intimate family member.


For an Injunction Against Harassment (IAH), a series of acts over any period of time that are directed at a specific person and would cause a reasonable person to be seriously alarmed, annoyed, or harassed, and the conduct seriously alarms, annoys, or harasses the person and serves no legitimate purpose. A person who alleges one or more acts of sexual violence may file a petition for an IAH.

Injunction Against Harassment

An Injunction Against Harassment (IAH) is a legal restraint that orders a person to stop harassing, annoying, or alarming another person. Injunctions can be used for disputes between neighbors or strangers.

Harassment is defined as "a series of acts over any period of time that is directed at a specific person..." or "one or more acts of sexual violence." Therefore, more than one act of harassment has to have occurred to qualify for an IAH. For an IAH, the plaintiff may have to hire a process server to deliver the petition and the order to the defendant. Look for the IAH law at A.R.S. § 12-1809.

Injunction Against Workplace Harassment

An Injunction Against Workplace Harassment (IAWH) allows an employer or an agent of an employer to file for relief on behalf of all employees at the workplace, any person who enters the employer's property, and any person who is performing official work duties. This allows the inclusion of numerous people under the protective umbrella of this injunction, whereas the Injunction Against Harassment is between two people. Look for the IAWH law at A.R.S. § 12-1810.

For an IAWH, harassment is defined as "a single threat or act of physical harm or damage or a series of acts over a period of time that would cause a reasonable person to be seriously alarmed or annoyed."

Judicial Officer

An elected or appointed judge, commissioner, justice of the peace, or magistrate.


Modify means to change. The plaintiff or the defendant may ask the court to make specific changes to an Order of Protection (OP) or an Injunction Against Harassment (IAH). If the judicial officer agrees and makes the change at a hearing, the OP or the IAH is considered "modified." A modified OP or IAH must be served on the defendant again. A modified order expires at the same time the original order expires.


National Crime Information Center. Among the data collected at NCIC is the Protective Order File, which holds information about protective orders issued by courts in the United States.

Order of Protection

An Order of Protection (OP) is a court order that prohibits a person from committing acts of domestic violence or from contacting other people protected by the order. It can also provide other protective relief, such as removing firearms from the home, adding other people to the protective order, or giving exclusive use of the home to the plaintiff. Look for the OP statute at A.R.S. § 13-3602.

A person who believes her or his safety is in danger because of domestic violence or harassment can ask the court for an OP or an Injunction Against Harassment (IAH). The relationship between the person in danger and the person causing the danger is the deciding factor between an OP and an IAH.


"Pending" means--with respect to an action for annulment, legal separation, divorce,or for maternity or paternity--either that:

1. A court action has begun, but a final judgment, decree, or order has not been entered

2. A post-decree proceeding has begun, but a judgment, decree, or order finally determining the proceeding has not been entered.


A petition is a formal written request to a court in which the plaintiff is asking for a court order. In the petition, the plaintiff must explain why the order is needed. The petition is then filed with the court. If the judicial officer issues the protective order, a copy of the petition, along with the order, must be served on the defendant.


The plaintiff is the person who files a petition with the court for a protective order.

Protective Order

A protective order is a document obtained from a court that orders the defendant not to contact the plaintiff and to prevent abusive behavior. In Arizona, protective orders include an Order of Protection, an Injunction Against Harassment, an Injunction Against Workplace Harassment, and an Emergency Order of Protection.

Release Order

Arizona law provides that when a person arrested for an act of domestic violence is released from custody, any release order must include pretrial release conditions necessary to protect the alleged victim and other specifically designated persons.

Within 24 hours after a defendant is arrested for an act of domestic violence, the court must forward a certified copy of the release order to the sheriff of the county in which the order was issued for registration. The sheriff must maintain a central repository for release orders so the existence and validity of the release order can be easily verified.

Law enforcement agencies are required to advise domestic violence victims where registration and the conditions of a release order may be verified. Faced with a violation of a release order, a victim may summon a peace officer to enforce the conditions of the order against the defendant.


"Service" means that the defendant must be personally given a copy of the petition filed by the plaintiff and the Order of Protection (OP), Injunction Against Harassment (IAH), or Injunction Against Workplace Harassment (IAWH) issued by the court. A protective order is not legally enforceable until it is personally served on the defendant. When an OP is issued by the judge, AZPOINT will assign service to a specific law enforcement agency or a constable. If the court issues an IAH or an IAWH, the plaintiff must ask a law enforcement agency, a constable, or a private process server to serve the injunction on the defendant. The plaintiff may not serve the papers.