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What is an order to show cause hearing for a civil harassment case?

Huntington Beach, CA |
Filed under: Litigation

Does this mean the petitioner has to show why they need an order? Or why the defendant shows cause to why he shouldn't be restrained? Or both? Can someone explain the process? In this case TRO was denied and an OSC hearing date was set.

Attorney Answers 3


An "Order To Show Cause" is actually what it sounds like. It is an Order issued by the court directing the recipient (Respondent/Defendant) to come to court and show (prove) why the relief being requested SHOULD NOT BE GIVEN. From the sound of it, the person bringing the "OSC" is claiming the respondent is harassing him/her and wants the court to issue an Order directing the Respondent to stop whatever conduct is claimed to constitute the harassment. The purpose of the hearing is for the court to listen to both sides regarding the facts, and applicable law (legal arguments) so it can determine whether to grant or deny that requested relief. It more than likely requires the Respondent to submit opposition papers, setting forth the factual and legal arguments as to why it is believed the OSC should be denied. The denial of the TRO (temporarary restraining order) was likely because the court felt that the claimed injury from the harassment was not dramatic or irreperable enough to warrant "emergent relief" vis avis a TRO but that does not necessarily mean that the Court will not grant the OSC after the hearing. If you are the person who was served with the OSC you should consult and retain an attorney immediately as there can be various serious legal ramifications against you should that OSC be ultimately granted.

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You have received an excellent answer by my colleague. You will want to fight this and your best chance is withan attorney familiar with restraining order work. Use the Find A Lawyer tab here on AVVO to find one. Good luck.

I am licensed in California only and my answers on Avvo assume California law. The above answer is for general information only and is based on the information you posted. Every case is fact dependent, so to get a thorough analysis of your situation, you will need to consult face to face with an attorney licensed to practice in the jurisdiction where the incident took place. Do not conclusively rely on any information posted online when deciding what to do about your case. No attorney-client relationship shall be created through the use reading of this response on Avvo. You should never delay seeking legal advice, disregard legal advice, or commence or discontinue any legal action because of information in this response.

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I am not a CA attorney, laws vary from state to state, therefore you should always consult a local attorney.

An Order to Show Cause is a proceeding in which the plaintiffs asks the court to enter an an order either enjoining (preventing) or compelling someone to do something. There are legal standards that are required to be met for the issuance of an injunction. Here in NJ, the movant most prove by clear and convincing evidence that there will be irreparable harm if the injunction is not granted, that the movant has a meritorious claim and that they are likely to win on the merits of their claim. The CA standard may differ. You should consult a local litigation attorney.

If this answer was helpful, please mark it as helpful or as a best answer. This answer is for general education purposes only. It neither creates an attorney-client relationship nor provides legal guidance or advice. The answer is based on the limited information provided and the answer might be different had additional information been provided. You should consult an attorney.

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