What is a Cease and Desist Letter?

Let's answer the question: "What is a Cease and Desist Letter?"

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Have you ever been involved in a civil dispute? If so, you know how expensive an attorney or law firm can be. And while a lawyer can almost always solve your problem, they can also be quite costly.

That’s where a cease and desist letter can help. Suppose you’ve been the victim of defamation, unscrupulous debt collectors, or intellectual property infringement. In that case, a powerful letter can help get you the relief you deserve without needing to pursue legal action.

In this article, we will answer the critical question: What is a cease and desist letter? We’ll also provide information on what you should put in your letter and the best ways to send it.

Let’s get started.

What is a Cease and Desist Letter, and How Can It Help?

How can a cease and desist letter help you avoid legal proceedings

A cease and desist letter is a document sent to an individual or business that you believe is engaging in unwanted or harmful behavior. The letter demands that they stop this offending behavior immediately.

In most cases, it will include a threat of future legal action if a specific behavior doesn’t stop.

More often than not, a strongly-worded letter is all that is needed to resolve a conflict without legal consequences. And given the relatively low cost and commitment, it’s almost always worth trying before getting lawyers involved.

Are these letters legal documents?

Cease and desist letters are not legal documents. However, they can be used as evidence in a legal case if the matter ends in court.

Additionally, some states have laws that specifically allow a person who has received a cease and desist letter to file a lawsuit against the sender if they believe you sent the letter in bad faith.

Is it ever a bad idea to send a Cease and Desist Letter?

If your dispute could end in a criminal charge, require a restraining order, or involve illegal behavior, a cease and desist letter may not be appropriate.

There are a few situations where sending a cease and desist letter is not the right thing to do:

Criminal vs. civil matters

If the problem is a criminal matter that requires going to court, this type of letter is not appropriate. In this case, you should contact the authorities immediately.

Your claim has no basis

If you know that your demand lacks merit, you should not be sending a cease and desist letter. If you do, and your case ends up in court, it could backfire on you with a judge deciding your claim is frivolous. When in doubt, contact a lawyer for a legal opinion.

Scare tactic

Finally, a cease and desist letter can also be considered an act of aggression. If the recipient believes you are using it as a scare tactic, it could escalate the situation and put you at risk of a harassment lawsuit.

With that said, in most cases, a well-crafted cease and desist letter is still an effective way to resolve a dispute without needing to go to court.

How is a Cease and Desist Letter Different from a Demand Letter?

How is a Cease and Desist Letter different from a demand letter?

A cease and desist letter is similar to a demand letter and are often used interchangeably. Both are documents sent to individuals or businesses in an attempt to resolve a dispute without legal action.

However, a cease and desist letter generally demands that the recipient stop an offending behavior under the threat of legal consequences. For example, if you are being harassed, you may demand that the harassment stop, or else you reserve the right to file a civil claim.

On the other hand, a demand letter typically asks for compensation or remedy. For example, if you were the victim of property vandalism, you might send a demand letter asking for damages.

The Seven Components of a Great Cease and Desist Letter

How to build a great cease and desist letter.

A great letter should include the following seven elements:

  1. Sender information
  2. Recipient information
  3. A description of the offending behavior
  4. The specific demand to stop the behavior
  5. The consequences of non-compliance
  6. A deadline for compliance
  7. A signature

Each component is essential in crafting an effective cease and desist letter. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

Sender Information

The sender information should include your name, address, phone number, and email address. If you send the letter on behalf of a company, you should also include the company’s name and contact information.

Recipient Information

The recipient information should include the name, address, phone number, and email address of the individual or business that you believe is engaging in unwanted or harmful behavior.

A Description of the Offending Behavior

You should include a clear and concise description of the offending behavior. This will help the recipient understand why you sent them the letter. Ensure you take the emotion out of the situation and only include verifiable facts. Rumors and gossip have no place in a formal note of this type.

The Specific Demand to Stop the Behavior

Your demand should be specific and direct. For example, “I demand that you stop posting about me on social media.” Your demand should also be short and powerful to avoid ambiguity about what the recipient should do.

The Consequences of Non-Compliance

You should include the consequences of non-compliance in your letter. For example, “If you do not stop this patent infringement, we will enforce our legal rights, and our attorneys will start a civil case against you.

A Deadline for Compliance

Your letter should include a deadline for compliance. This will help ensure that the recipient takes your demand seriously. For example, “I expect you to stop contacting me within seven days of receiving this letter.”

A Signature

Be sure to sign and date your letter. If you are sending the letter yourself, your signature will be acceptable. However, if your attorney sends it, they will sign on your behalf.

Six Common Types of Cease and Desist Letters

The most common types of letter that can help avoid legal repercussions.

There are six common types of Cease and Desist letter. They are:


If you are a victim of harassment, this may be the answer to your problem. Common types of harassment include workplace harassment, sexual harassment, and social media harassment.


A defamation cease and desist letter is typically sent when an individual or business believes they have been the victim of libel or slander.

Libel is a defamatory statement that is recorded. Examples include written publications, online videos, emails, and other recorded media.

Slander, on the other hand, is a spoken defamatory statement that you may have heard directly or heard about second-hand.


Infringement is when someone is using or misusing your intellectual property. There are three major types of infringement: patent infringement, trademark infringement, and copyright infringement. It’s important to note that larger companies often fight against these types of claims, so be ready to lawyer up to protect your IP if needed.

Debt Collector

If a debt collector is harassing you, there are laws to protect you and your friends/family from them. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a specific set of rules that debt collectors must follow called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). If they don’t follow these rules, you can send them a cease and desist letter demanding they stop their harassment.


If you are in a business contract and the other party is not living up to their end of the bargain, you may want to send them a cease and desist letter. This type of letter is typically sent when one party has breached their contractually obligated duties.

It is also common for this type of letter to be used for former employees if they divulge trade secrets or break the provisions of their employment contract.


If someone is trespassing or damaging your property, you may want to send them a cease and desist letter. This type of letter will demand that the recipient stop their offending behavior and will often include a deadline for compliance. It may even request damages or repair costs.

This type of letter can also be used for neighbor and landlord/tenant disputes.

Three Ways to Get a Great Cease and Desist Letter

How to get your cease and desist letter, either by writing it yourself or ordering it from one of the many legal services available to you.

There are three main ways you can get your letter written:

There are several online cease and desist letter generators that can help you create a custom letter for your specific situation. These generators often have a step-by-step process that helps you fill in the details.

We recommend LegalNature, as they make it easy by stepping you through the process with a simple online tool.

Write it Yourself

You can write a cease and desist letter yourself. However, it’s important to note that these letters are legal documents and, if not written correctly, can do more harm than good. If you choose to write the letter yourself, be sure to do your research and consider consulting with an attorney before sending it.

Hire an Attorney

If you don’t feel comfortable writing the letter yourself or your situation is complex, you can hire an attorney to write it for you. This will ensure that the letter is strong and effectively communicates your demands.

How to Send a Cease and Desist Letter

How to send a cease and desist letter

Once written, it’s time to send your letter. We recently did a deep dive into the pros and cons of each method for sending your cease and desist letter, but here’s a quick summary of the options:

Mail Your Letter (Preferred)

If you are sending your letter via mail, we recommend sending it via certified mail so you can track the delivery and have proof that they received it. This is important as it will be helpful if you need to take legal action down the road.

Hand Deliver (Serve) Your Letter

Serving your letter will help add weight to your claim. While you can certainly do this yourself, it may be best to hire a lawyer or process server to do it on your behalf, especially if you think the situation might escalate or become violent.

Email/Fax Your Letter

Email and fax are not the preferred methods for sending a cease and desist letter, as it can be challenging to track delivery and confirm receipt. However, if you must use one of these methods, be sure to send the letter to multiple email addresses (if possible) and get confirmation of receipt.

Final thoughts

A Cease and Desist Letter is a formal way of telling a person or business to stop a specific action. It can be used for debt collectors, employees who have violated their contracts, people trespassing on your property, or in any other situation where you need the person to stop their behavior.

If you need a Cease and Desist letter, we recommend checking out the online tool at Law Depot, as it provides the perfect balance of effectiveness and ease of use.