What is a Restraining Order?

A restraining order also called a protection order or protective order is a court-issued command that prohibits a party from a particular action in relation to another person. Restraining orders can be either temporary or permanent. In most cases, it refers to the legal order stating that someone is not allowed to contact or approach a certain person. Every state in the U.S. has some sort of domestic violence restraining order law to protect victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, harassment, and stalking. 

In these cases, the protected person refers to the individual who receives protection by virtue of the restraining order. The restrained person is the individual whose liberties have been restricted due to a restraining order.

Key Takeaways

  • A restraining order is a command ordered by the court that restricts a certain person from a particular action.
  • Restraining order regulations vary from state to state.
  • Victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse, harassment, and stalking can file a restraining order to protect their safety.

Types of Restraining Orders

There are three main types of restraining orders:

Emergency Protective Order (ERO): In many states, a law enforcement officer can request an emergency restraining order if he or she has reason to believe the person requiring protection is in immediate danger of domestic violence. These orders are usually issued quickly, but they are not considered a long-term solution since they only last 5-7 days.

Temporary Restraining Order (TRO): Temporary restraining orders generally last between 20 to 25 days, depending on the state. The party seeking a TRO must convince the judge in a court hearing that he or she will suffer immediate and irreparable injury unless the order is issued.

Permanent Restraining Order:  At the end of the period covered by the temporary restraining order, an additional hearing will take place where the protected person can request a permanent restraining order. As the name suggests, permanent restraining orders remain in effect for an indefinite amount of time. 

Restraining Order Provisions

Although each state has its own laws when it comes to restraining orders, here are a few examples of provisions that may be included:

No Contact: prohibit all contact including communication via telephone, text messages, email, notes, through a third party or delivery of gifts.

Cease Abuse: ordering the restrained person to stop hurting or threatening someone.

Stay Away: requiring the abuser to remain a minimum distance from the protected person.

Firearms: ordering a restrained person to relinquish all firearms and prohibit him or her from purchasing firearms.

Residence Exclusion: obliging the abuser to move out of a shared home.

Counseling: instructing an abuser to attend counseling such as anger management or a batterer’s intervention program.

Bottom Line

If you are in immediate danger from an abuser or offender, you should call the police immediately and request an emergency protective order. If time and circumstances allow it, it is recommended to hire an experienced lawyer to aid in the process of filing for a temporary or permanent restraining order. Restraining orders are one of possible remedies that the law can grant to victims of domestic violence. It is critical to make sure you are receiving proper legal representation in such sensitive and potentially dangerous situations.

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