Are you experiencing harm or harassment at the hands of another individual? Wondering what you can do to protect yourself and keep your abuser away? Then you may want to explore obtaining a restraining order.
Not sure what a restraining order is or how you’d go about obtaining one? We’re here to help. In this article, we’re covering everything you need to know about restraining orders, including what they cover, how they can help, and what you should consider before obtaining one.
What is a Restraining Order?
A restraining order, also known as a protection order, is a court order designed to protect a person against further harm from an abuser. It’s a civil order, which means it does not go on the abuser’s criminal record. And it orders that the abuser must stay away from the victim and stop harassing or contacting them.
What Does a Restraining Order Actually Do?
With a restrainer order, a judge signs an Order of Protection that outlines a list of rules that the abuser must follow in order to not violate the restraining order. While the punishment for violating a restraining order can differ by state, generally speaking, any person who does so is deemed in contempt of a court order, meaning they knowingly failed to obey said order.
As a result, they can potentially be arrested, jailed, or charged with a felony or misdemeanor.
Restraining orders typically enforce that the abuser cannot contact the victim in any way. They cannot call or visit the victim’s home. They can also not go to any specific place outlined in the order either.
Restraining orders can also require that the abuser leave any home or apartment that they share with the victim. Even if the property is in the abuser’s name. Additionally, the court may even order that the abuser pays for any costs incurred because of the abuse, such as household bills, moving expenses, and loss of earnings. They may even have to pay for the victim’s attorney’s fees.
7 Important Things to Understand About Getting a Restraining Order
Now that you know the basics of what a restraining order is, it’s time to delve into some specifics that will help you better understand if obtaining one is the right decision. Here are 7 things you should know before you make a decision:
Restraining Orders are Only Temporary at First
If you’re planning on obtaining a restraining order, you should know the first one is a T.R.O, or Temporary Restraining Order. While the length of this order varies depending on the state, it usually only lasts 10 days. At the end of that 10-day period, you and the abuser are asked to appear in court, which is where the terms of the order will be determined.
Your Abuser Can Be Present at Your Court Appearance
For your first court appearance, you can appear before a judge without your abuser being present. The abuser is allowed to be present at the second appearance in court and take time to explain their side of the story. Both parties are entitled to legal representation, and it is after this session that the judge will determine if a final order will be made, how long it will last, and what the conditions will be.
You Can Bring a Lawyer
Both you and the abuser are allowed to bring a lawyer to your hearing. This can be helpful if you feel you need legal or mental support during these proceedings. If you think you’d want legal support during this time, contact a restraining order lawyer as they can provide you with all of the aid you’d need.
It’s important to note that you do not need a lawyer. Lawyers can be very helpful if you have children or if your case is particularly complicated. It’s generally best to reach out to a lawyer and receive some legal advice before making any final decision.
There is No Cost for Filing a Protection Order
If you are requesting protection from a current or former partner that is deemed domestic violence, there is no cost for filing for a protection order. If you are seeking protection for something other than domestic violence, you will most likely have to deal with fees related to the filing and service of said protection. You can ask for those fees to be waived or postponed if you are unable to pay.
You Should Carry Your Order at All Times
When the court grants you a restraining order, they’ll give you a copy of the order. You should keep this on you at all times. It can prove especially helpful if the abuser decides not to obey the order.
In that situation, be sure to call the police. If you have the court order on you, the police will have to arrest the abuser for violating said order. By having it on hand, you’ll also have an easier time communicating your current situation to the authorities.
You Can File Criminal Charges
Acts of domestic violence are considered crimes; you can file criminal charges against your abuser. You are not required to file these charges, but you can file them if you choose even if you have already obtained a restraining order. These charges can be filed at your local police department.
The police can also fine charges on their own if you show signs of injury or if any weapon was used. If the abuser is found guilty of said charges, the court can order fines, probation, or jail time.
Restraining Orders are Only Part of a Safety Plan
Restraining orders can help protect you tremendously, so they are worth getting if you believe you need one. If you feel at risk, however, you should always call 911 to ensure your protection. You should know you’re not alone though, and there are plenty of resources and hotlines available to provide you with any of the emotional or mental support you may need.
Ready to File Your Order?
Filing for a restraining order can be a big decision. But it doesn’t have to be scary. By reviewing the content in this article, you can make a fully informed decision about what is best for you.
Did you find this article helpful? Need more insights? Explore our website for additional information.