5 Facts to Know About Restraining Orders

A restraining order is essential when it comes to protecting yourself against potential harm. As long as you can prove that a person can cause harm, you can file for a restraining order. But that is not all there is to restraining orders. 

In this article, you will see what a restraining order is, how to file for one, the penalties provided for violating a restraining order, and the longevity of a court-issued restraining order.

What Is a Restraining Order?

A restraining order is a form of non-physical protection that shields you from potential harm. When you file for and acquire a restraining order against a person, the law prohibits the person from coming anywhere near you, your home, your family, or your business. 

Noteworthy is that the coverage of a restraining order depends on the circumstances surrounding the order and the type of order. For example, a court may issue a restraining order on grounds of domestic violence. Such an order can result in the relocation of the abuser to another location away from the victim. This is usually the case if it is likely that the abuser and the victim may run into each other.

Sometimes, a court may issue a temporary restraining order if the case remains active. This type of order curtails contact between the accused and the victim.

Since courts issue protective orders because of a crime committed, the court may mandate defendants to pay monetary compensation to the victim.

The Penalties for Violation

Violating a restraining order is as grievous as committing the crime from which the restraining order restricts you. The court considers you a threat to the person who filed the order and the community at large. 

Violation of a restraining order is a criminal offense, and violation attracts fines, incarceration, and restriction of some rights. State laws differ when it comes to appropriate penalties for violation; however, in all states, violation attracts fines or incarceration, or both.

Further, the court considers a restraining order violation as an act of contempt and appropriately serves a penalty for contempt against the court in addition to the penalties stated above.

How Can You File for a Restraining Order?

When you find yourself in a situation that may threaten your life, the first step to obtain a restraining order is to make a report to the police. You may then request a restraining order having done this.

Except in cases of domestic violence, which the law treats with urgency, the court schedules a hearing to know if there is enough cause to issue a restraining order. For victims of domestic violence, it is different. The court grants a restraining order when the prosecution files for criminal charges.

What Is the Longevity of a Court-Issued Restraining Order?

Three things determine how long a restraining order will last. The first is state laws, which vary from one state to the other; the second is the type and gravity of the offense, and the third is the type of order.

As soon as you report a case, a court may grant a temporary restraining order to prevent you from harm. The court then schedules a preliminary hearing. Depending on how the hearing goes, the court may issue an injunction.

A restraining order may become permanent if the accuser/victim believes they still need protection. In such cases, they will file for a permanent injunction in court.

Before a court grants the permanent injunction, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to show they may be in danger after trial. The court may also issue a permanent injunction after trial if it deems it fit after considering the circumstances.

How Do You Make Your Restraining Order Permanent?

If you can show that the accused is continuously a threat to you and may harm you if/when given the chance, then a court may issue a permanent order. The burden of proof is on the plaintiff. Proof may include videos, witness statements, medical reports, and police reports.

The power to rescind, adjust, or terminate a restraining order rests in the hands of the court. However, the plaintiff may request for adjustment of terms or outright cancellation of the order.

Can I Mount a Defense if I Violate a Restraining Order?

“The law takes the violation of a restraining order very seriously,” says attorney Mark Sherman of The Law Offices of Mark Sherman, LLC. Due to this barricade, there are very few arguments that you can make in defense. 

The first defense you may use is to plead ignorance. If found guilty of violating a restraining order, you may argue that you are ignorant or could not comprehend the terms.

If you have enough evidence, you may argue your innocence. In such a case, the defendant shows that the plaintiff unfairly accused them of violating the order. 

The self-defense argument also could be employed. You could argue that you only had contact with the defendant while defending yourself. These arguments usually fail to be successful, as a plaintiff can easily disprove them all.

You need a lawyer to help you mount a defense for violation or to help you with arguments that will get you a permanent restraining order.