Sheriff serves your petition for a restraining order

After you get a court date, you must have someone give a copy of your court papers to the person you want a restraining order against. This is called serving papers. Serving the papers lets the other side know that a case was filed, what they can do next, and what they can't do (if there's a temporary restraining order).

Before you start

To ask the sheriff to serve your papers, you must have an address or location for the other side (restrained person). If the other side is in jail, the sheriff can serve them. If the other side is in prison in California, prison staff, not the sheriff, will serve your papers. Follow the instructions by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for serving someone in prison. 

It’s important to have the restrained person served as soon as possible. Once they are served with a temporary restraining order, they will have to turn in, sell, or store any firearms or ammunition they have within 24 hours, and police can arrest them for violating the order. Service is also important because it will give the judge the power to consider granting a long-term restraining order that could last up to five years. Without service, the court can only grant a temporary restraining order. Service can be a hard step to complete and may take multiple tries. At your court date, the judge can give you more time, if you need it.

For your case to move forward, you need to have your court papers served, even if the judge did not grant you a temporary restraining order. 

How to serve your Petition for Restraining Order

  • Fill out form SER-001

    Request for Sheriff to Serve Court Papers (form SER-001)

    Use this form to ask the sheriff to serve the other side with your court papers. 

    Tips for completing the form:

    • Location of person (item 4): The sheriff will try to serve the person at the address you give.  If you have more than one address (like a work address and a home address) you can list both (in item 4a and 4b) and write the hours that the person will be at each address. 
    • Type of court papers you are serving (item 5a): In this section, write "gun violence restraining order." 
    • Court hearing (item 5c): Give the court date listed on the form GV-109, #3.
    • Deadline for service (item 5d): To figure out your deadline, first look at form GV-109, #5 to see how many days the judge listed. Subtract the number of days from the court hearing date on GV-109, #3. For example, if your court date is June 10 and the court ordered you to serve the other side at least 5 days before your court date, then your deadline is June 5.
    Contact the sheriff or marshal as soon as you can. It may take them a couple of weeks to attempt service. 
  • Gather all your court papers

    You will need to give the sheriff a copy of your court papers, which will include a copy of:

    • Form GV-109
    • Form GV-100
    • Form GV-110, if granted by the judge
    • Form GV-120 (leave blank - this is for the other side to complete if they want to)
    • Form GV-120-INFO
    • Form GV-125 (leave blank - this is for the other side to complete if they want to)
    • Form GV-250 (leave blank)

    Check page 2 of form GV-109 to see if the judge ordered you to serve any other forms on the other side. 

  • Give your papers to the sheriff

    You can give your papers to the sheriff in person or electronically. Contact the sheriff's office for more details on how to turn in your papers. In Trinity county, contact the marshal for service. 

    Yes, you can have someone else turn in your papers for you. Make sure you complete and sign form SER-001 (and SER-001A if it applies to your situation). Even if someone turns in the form for you, list your name in item 2, and you or your lawyer must sign the form.
  • Get paperwork back from the sheriff

    The sheriff should give you paperwork after they serve (or try to serve) your forms

    • If the sheriff was able to serve your forms
      An officer will complete a Proof of Service form. This form shows the court that the other side was served and will allow the court to move forward with your case.
    • If the sheriff was unable to serve your forms
      They may complete a form that says they were unsuccessful and will give dates and times they tried to serve the other side. Sometimes this form is called a Declaration of Due Diligence.
    The judge cannot grant you a long-term restraining order without service. At your court date (see form GV-109, item 3), you will need to ask the judge for more time to serve the other side. If the judge reschedules your court hearing, the judge will need to sign a new order (form GV-116), which will have your new court date and could extend any temporary protection you have. You will then need someone to serve GV-116 with the other forms you filed (see form GV-109, item 5 for any other forms you must have served on the other side).


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    Check-in with the sheriff if you have not received paperwork from them. 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.


    Once you get your paperwork

    1. 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.
    2. Bring a copy of the form to your court date.

    If the judge granted a Temporary Restraining Order (form GV-110),

     once the other side (restrained person) is served, they must sell, store, or turn in their firearms and ammunition within 24 hours, and they can be arrested for violating the restraining order.

Prepare for your court date

What's next?

Once you’ve served your Petition for Gun Violence Restraining Order, learn what to expect at your hearing so you know how to prepare.

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