November 7, 2011

New Case Law – Fear of Imminent Bodily Injury Does Not Require Overt Threats or Physical Violence

On September 8, 2011, the Oregon Court of Appeals decided Hubbell v. Sanders.

In this case, the victim was granted a restraining order against her ex-boyfriend due to his threatening behavior and stalking, including sending threatening text messages, lurking near the victim’s home and trespassing on her property, and vandalizing her property.  In order for the court to issue a FAPA restraining order, the victim had to show that she had been the victim of abuse by her ex-boyfriend in the past 180 days, that there was imminent danger of further abuse, and that her ex-boyfriend represented a credible threat to her physical safety.  The definition of abuse includes conduct which places the victim in fear of imminent bodily injury.  In this case, the trial court continued the restraining order and the Court of Appeals upheld it.  The Court of Appeals found that victim’s proof of the ex-boyfriend’s repeated threatening behavior and stalking was sufficient to establish that she was in fear of imminent bodily injury.  The Court further found that his persistence in threatening the victim and her friend, in trespassing on the victim’s property, and in harassing her by chasing her in his car were sufficient to show that the victim was in imminent danger of further abuse and that the ex-boyfriend represented a credible threat to her safety.

Many people believe that an individual must physically harm the victim in order for the court to grant the victim a restraining order.  However, many different actions which cause an individual to fear imminent harm may be the basis for a restraining order.

The entire opinion can be found here.