This article was written by associate attorney Laura MacMillan and edited by partners Adam J. Brittle and Jill E. BrittleThis is intended to be a step-by-step follow-up to Adam J. Brittle’s prior post, “What is an Oregon Writ of Assistance?”
When a family member or roommate successfully files for a restraining order against you, you may find yourself out of the house and without your belongings. You of course cannot contact the people still living in the home, let alone actually stop by and ask for your things back. So how do you get around this obstacle? Your safest bet is to ask a judge to order a writ of assistance.
What is a writ of assistance? In short, a writ of assistance is an order that a judge can use to enforce a prior order. For example, a restraining order is a document establishing an order given by a judge. If you have a restraining order against you, you will notice in the document that there may be a section that allows you to go back into a residence to collect your belongings while being accompanied by a peace officer. However, to give that section power, you sometimes must get a judge to order a writ of assistance so that you can get the help necessary help from law enforcement.
So how do you get your writ of assistance to retrieve your property? You will need to prepare a few different documents to get the process started:
1) Motion for Writ of Assistance
2) Affidavit supporting motion
3) Order for Writ of Assistance
4) Writ of Assistance (certified by the court clerk)
It is important to remember to be specific in all of your documents regarding what specifically you want the judge to order law enforcement to help you do (i.e. the specific address where you are retrieving property, what property you need to retrieve, how long you expect to be at the property). Law enforcement will only execute what the writ allows. Typically, your motion, affidavit, and proposed order will be presented to a judge as an ex parte motion, meaning that the other side will not be present. Once the judge signs your order, you will present the actual writ of assistance, along with a copy of the signed order, to the court clerk. The clerk will then certify the writ of assistance and create certified copies, which law enforcement will serve on the party who obtained the restraining order at the time you collect your belongings.
As soon as your writ is certified, it’s time to head down to your local Sheriff’s office with your writ of assistance to schedule an appointment to retrieve your belongings. It may take a couple of days for all parties (you, the opposing party, a deputy) to be available, so be patient and always be courteous with law enforcement.
If you have any questions on the process of retrieving your belongings, please reach out to the attorneys at Brittle & Brittle P.C. and we would be happy to meet with you.