Before you start
This page gives you step-by-step instructions on how to have the sheriff serve your court papers. The sheriff can be a good option for you because it is safe and may be free. The sheriff may not be a good option for you if you do not know where the other side lives or works, or if they move around a lot. The sheriff usually serves during normal business hours.
If you want someone you know to serve your papers, they must be both:
- 18 or over
- Not part of your case
It’s important to have the restrained person served as soon as possible. Once they are served, the police can arrest them for violating the order. Service is also important because it will give the judge the power to consider granting you a long-term restraining order, that could last up to five years. Without service, the court can only grant you a temporary restraining order. Service can be a hard step to complete and make take multiple tries. At your court date, the judge can give you more time, if you need it.
Contact the sheriff
Contact the sheriff in the county where the person you want protection from is located. Ask them where you should go to drop off your court papers for service (some departments may allow you to email or fax papers to them). In Shasta or Trinity county, contact the marshal for service.
Contact the sheriff or marshal as soon as you can. It may take them a couple of weeks to attempt service.
Give the sheriff your court papers
You will need to give the sheriff a copy of your court papers, which will include a copy of:
- Form CH-109
- Form CH-100
- Form CH-110, if granted by the judge
- Form CH-120 (leave blank- this is for the other side to complete if they want to)
- Form CH-120-INFO
- Form CH-250 (leave blank)
Check page 2 of form CH-109 to see if the judge ordered you to serve any other forms on the other side.
The sheriff may have paperwork that you need to fill out, too. If you need help completing forms, you may want to bring someone with you when you go to the sheriff’s office.
Pay a fee, if needed
You do not have to pay a fee to the sheriff if:
- The judge granted you a fee waiver (look at form FW-003) or
- Item 11a is checked on form CH-110 that you got back from the court.
If the judge did not grant you a fee waiver for service or if 11a is not checked on form CH-110, you will have to pay the sheriff $45 for this service.
Know your deadline to serve
Your server must deliver your papers by a deadline before your court date (hearing date).
To see when your deadline for service is, look at your Notice of Court Hearing (form CH-109).
- The number of days is in item 6 on Page 2.
- You must serve the person at least this number of days before your court date (the date in item 3 on Page 1).
For example, if your court date is June 10 and the court ordered you to serve the other side 5 days before your court date, then your deadline is June 5.
It is important that you check with the sheriff to see if they were able to serve the other side by your deadline. If they did not serve the other side by the deadline, you will need to reschedule your court date. Learn more about how to reschedule your court date.
If you can’t find the person, the judge can allow you to serve in another way, like by mail. Before the judge can give you permission to serve another way, you will have to show the judge that you tried to find the person. You will want to write down all the ways you tried to find the person. For more help on how to make this request, contact your local Self-Help Center.
If you know where the person is but believe that they are evading (dodging) service, the judge can allow you to serve in another way, like by mail. Before the judge can give you permission to serve another way, you will have to show the judge that attempts were made to serve the other person. You will want to write down all the ways that you tried to have someone personally serve the papers. For more help on how to make this request, contact your local Self-Help Center.
Get paperwork back from the sheriff
The sheriff should give you paperwork after they serve (or try to serve) your forms
Check-in with the sheriff, if you have not received paperwork from them.
Once you get your paperwork
- Make sure the original proof of service or declaration of due diligence form gets filed with the court. If there is a stamp on the upper right-hand corner of the form, this means it was already filed and you do not need to file it with the court.
- Bring a copy of the form to your court date.
Once you’ve served your Request for Civil Harassment Restraining Orders, learn about what to expect at your hearing so you know how to prepare.