If someone has stalked or sexually assaulted you or your minor child (under the age of 16), you can file a request in the Civil Division of the Superior Court for an order to have them stop.
You can ask for an order against stalking or sexual assault from the civil division only if the other person is not a family member or someone you have ever lived with, and is not someone you have dated.
If the other person is a family member, is someone you have lived with, or is someone you have dated, you must instead file a request for relief from abuse in the Family Division of the Superior Court. See the Relief from Abuse web page for more information about that process.
Is this the right kind of protective order for you?
There are several different types of protective orders in Vermont. The main difference is the relationship between the parties, what kind of behavior has occurred, and the court division in which the request is filed. The process also varies.
Not sure which type of protective order is right for your situation? The Protective Orders web page provides information about each type of protective order, who may ask for one, and what kind of protections an order could provide.
Survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking can ask the court for an order to restrict the other party’s ability to file new litigation against them. See the Abusive Litigation web page for more information.
The person asking for the order is the plaintiff.
The person the order would be against is the defendant.
The terms "Sexually Assaulted" and "Stalk" are defined by Vermont Law (12 V.S.A. § 5131).
Stalking is when a person purposely follows, monitors, surveils, threatens to hurt you, or interferes with your property. Calling you names or telling lies about you is not stalking.
The defendant must have done this at least two times. One incident is not stalking.
The behavior must be serious enough that a reasonable person would fear for their physical safety or the safety of a family member, or it would cause them to suffer substantial emotional distress.
Sexual assault includes:
- sex without consent, including with threats or by administering drugs (“sexual assault”)
- sex without consent combined with significant violence (“aggravated sexual assault”)
- using a child in sexual performance
- a parent or guardian consenting to sexual performance by a child
- indecent acts with the intent of arousing or gratifying sexual desires (“lewd and lascivious conduct”)
To ask for an order against stalking or sexual assault, fill out a complaint and an affidavit form, found at the bottom of this web page.
The affidavit is an explanation of what has happened that makes you feel you need a court order. You have to swear that you are telling the truth when you sign it.
After you file the forms, a judge will read them and decide whether your situation meets the requirements for a temporary emergency order.
If the judge does not issue an emergency order:
- You can still ask to have a hearing so that you can testify in court to try to prove your case. If you ask for a hearing, the court will send your complaint, affidavit, and hearing notice to the police so they can deliver a copy to the defendant. This is called serving the defendant.
- You can choose not to ask for a hearing, in which case your complaint and affidavit stay confidential, and a copy does not go to the defendant.
If the judge does issue an emergency order:
- It is only a temporary order. A hearing will be scheduled for a later date so that you and the defendant can both testify in court and tell your sides of the story.
- The court will deliver a copy of your complaint, your affidavit, and the temporary order to the police. The police will then deliver these to the defendant. This is called serving the defendant.
Until the police serve the paperwork, the temporary order is not yet in effect.
The hearing is not based just on what you wrote in your affidavit. You will have to testify. You may also bring other people to testify about what happened. If present at the hearing, the defendant also gets to testify and may bring witnesses. These hearings are public. After you and the defendant have testified, the judge will decide whether the evidence meets the requirements for an order.
If the judge decides there is not enough evidence for an order, the temporary order ends and the case is dismissed.
If the judge issues an order, it will be for a limited time. You and the defendant will both get a copy of the order right after the hearing if the defendant is present. If the defendant is not present, the police will have to deliver a copy to the defendant before the order is in effect.
If an order against stalking or sexual assault is issued, the defendant may be forbidden from contacting you in any way, including by email, text, mail, phone, or some other method. The defendant may also be ordered to stay away from you.
If the defendant does contact you in violation of the order, they could be arrested. The police and the prosecutor decide whether to take action if this happens.