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

This page gives you step-by-step instructions on how to have the sheriff serve your court papers. There is no fee to have the sheriff serve your court papers, and it is a safe option. The sheriff usually serves during normal business hours.

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

  • Contact the sheriff

    Contact the sheriff in the county where the person you want a restraining order against 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. 

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    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 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. 

    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.

  • 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 GV-109). 

    • The number of days is in item 5 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.

  • 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.


    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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Have a question about Gun violence restraining order?

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