I have had a woman stalk me for the past year. I met her online through a dating website. We went out a couple of time and I was not interesting in taking it further. Since I told her I was not interested, she started sending me hate texts through anonymous websites, hate mail from anonymous email accounts, and postings on craigslist. Then, I noticed her driving by my house and following me. Last month, she filed a false complaint against me with the Oregon Real Estate agency (which was dismissed quickly). Now, she has filed a restraining order against me in Multnomah County. The order has several email and facebook attachments she "spoofed" to make it appear I sent them. I haven't had any contact with her since approximately 10 months ago when I told her I am not interested.
I am also financially strapped right now? I cannot afford a lawyer. Can I defend myself by filing a motion to dismiss? I don't know what to do. This woman is clearly disturbed.
Criminal Defense Attorney
You can represent yourself but it is risky. File a motion to dismiss the injunction. Have your ammunition ready and explain your side and how she has been the aggressor. It may not help, but all you can do is try, because her step is to allege that you violated the restraining order and have you arrested. Find the money and hire a lawyer.
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Family Law Attorney
You can file a motion with the court to have the restraining order reviewed at a hearing. There are very rigid deadlines for this - 30 days for Family Abuse Prevention Act orders. You must file your request within the deadline after you've been served.
At the hearing, in theory, the burden of proof is on the petitioner (that is, her) to prove every element required to substantiate the case for the Order. I say 'in theory' because the burden is only by a preponderance of the evidence (i.e., more likely than not), and because, in my experience, courts uphold these orders most of the time. There's this idea that a restraining order is not a criminal proceeding, and that if someone's filed for such an order against you, you shouldn't be talking to them anyway, so what's the harm in upholding it.
If you claim that her evidence is improperly doctored, then you'd better have some powerful evidence of your own to back up your claim. For example, if she's digitally altered screen captures of websites, you will need to not only have copies of the 'true' screen shot, but also some way to convince the court that it's her evidence, not yours, that was altered.
All that said, there's this: the Orders only apply to conduct that occured within the preceding 180 days from the time of filing. If you can show that you really haven't had any contact with her for 10 months, then you should be able to prevail at the hearing based on that. It is strongly recommended that you have an attorney to help deal with this.
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Family Law Attorney
Mr. Bodzin's answer was excellent. I'd only add that you might want to consider filing a restraining or stalking protective order yourself, if she has been making continuous unwanted contact with you. You can discuss whether you have a case to do so with an attorney, or go to victim's services at any of the county courts.
You might also consider the modest means program through the Oregon State Bar, in order to find an inexpensive attorney. Or just call a couple of lawyers and see if they take cases on a reduced fee. A lot of us work on a sliding scale and would be happy to talk with you about your case.
My responses to posts on AVVO are not legal advice, nor do they create an attorney-client relationship. In order to provide true (and reliable) legal advice, an attorney must be able to ask questions of the person seeking legal advice and to thus gather the appropriate information. In order for an attorney-client relationship to exist, you and I both have to agree the the terms of such an agreement.
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