A restraining order is a document issued by a court that prevents one party from contacting or communicating with another party or parties. Courts issue restraining orders when one party credibly alleges that another has engaged in domestic abuse, violence, or stalking, or has threatened to commit these acts. Consequences of violating a restraining order include being held in contempt of court; losing child custody or visitation rights; jail time and/or monetary fines; and money damages. A court typically issues a restraining order to prevent physical harm to a person. Physical harm includes stalking, assault, domestic violence, and domestic abuse. A court may also issue a restraining order to prevent emotional harm or distress. A restraining order may include terms that require the restrained party from:
• Approaching, or attempting to approach the party who obtained the order, within a certain radius;
• Attempting to contact the party who obtained the order; or
• Engaging in acts of intimidation, or threats to commit violence or to violate the order.
A restraining order may also include terms requiring a party to:
• Move out of a shared residence;
• Refrain from visiting the other party’s home or place of employment; and
• Undergo anger management therapy.
In some instances, a court may issue an order to prevent financial harm. Such restraining orders may require a party, such as a debt collector, from engaging in financial harassment. Such orders may also require a party to refrain from specific financial activity that will harm the party who obtained the order. In appropriate cases, restraining orders can be issued to protect more than one person. If, for example, an individual has made threats against an individual and that individual’s family, a court may issue a restraining order protecting the entire family from being contacted by the restrained individual. A business entity can ask the court to issue a restraining order against another business or individual, if the other business or individual has threatened or engaged in illegal activity affecting the business entity. A person or entity that violates a restraining order will be held in contempt of court for violating that order. Contempt of court can be punished by monetary fines, imprisonment, or both. Violation of a restraining order carries civil penalties, including fines. Violation of an order also may prompt a court to issue a mandatory injunction. A mandatory injunction is a court order requiring a person or entity to take a specific action. For example, if an individual has obtained a restraining order against a factory prohibiting the factory from engaging in pollution, a court may take action, the court may require the factory to remediate the pollution by, for example, ordering that the factory properly dispose of waste. An individual who violates a restraining order may be sued by a victim in civil court.
The court may require the violator to pay monetary damages for emotional pain and suffering. The court may order a violator who engages in physical harm, to pay for doctor bills, pharmacy bills, and other expenses resulting from that harm. If the violation consists of physical abuse, a court may order revocation of the violator’s child custody and visitation rights, especially if the physical abuse is committed in the presence of the violator’s child or children. Violation of a restraining order may also result in criminal penalties. The amount of prison time and/or monetary fine depends upon the severity of the violation. For example, a person who intentionally violates a restraining order by approaching the protected individual with a gun may be charged with a felony. Violation of a restraining order that is otherwise punishable as a misdemeanor, may be punished as a felony if the violation is a second, third, or other additional offense.
What Should a Victim Do if a Restraining Order is Violated?
Step One – call the police. Restraining orders cannot be effectively enforced if their violation is not brought to the attention of the authorities. Therefore, victims should promptly report all violations to law enforcement officials. If the police issue a police report, the victim should obtain a copy. If you have been accused of violating a restraining order, or your restraining order is being violated, you should contact a criminal defense attorney or a family law attorney. An experienced criminal lawyer near you can represent your rights if you have been accused of violating a restraining order. If your own restraining order has been violated, an experienced family law attorney near you can assist you with taking appropriate legal action, including the filing of a contempt of court order, and/or initiating civil litigation. A court date will be set and you will appear before a judge. You will have the opportunity to explain your situation to the judge. You will usually appear before a judge without the abuser being present. When you return for your second appearance in court, on the date indicated in your order, the abuser has a right to be present. Both you and the abuser will have the opportunity to tell the judge what happened between you. You are allowed to bring a lawyer to this hearing, but it is purely your choice. At the end of this hearing, the judge will determine if you should receive a final order, for how long, and under what conditions.
If the abuser does not appear at the hearing, the judge will either continue the temporary order in effect until the abuser can be brought into court, or will enter a final order if there is proof that the abuser was served with the T.R.O./Notice to Appear. The sheriff or police should have proof of service. You cannot be asked or told to serve papers on the abuser. If you don’t appear and have not made arrangements with the court to reschedule the case, someone from the court will attempt to contact you by phone at home or at work, or they may send you a certified letter if you have no phone. The courts take domestic violence very seriously and will be worried about your safety if you do not call. If they cannot find you, your restraining order may be dismissed and you will no longer have the protection granted in the order.
What Happens After Court
The court will give you a copy of the order. Be sure to ask someone before you leave the court if there is anything you don’t understand. Carry it with you at all times. If the abuser does not obey the order, call the police. The police have to arrest an abuser who violates any part of the order that protects you from threats or violence. You have the right to police protection. If you carry your order with you at all times, it will be easier for the police to understand your current situation. If you lose your order, or it gets destroyed, return to the court and obtain another copy. To know what proof you need for a restraining order, it helps to understand what a restraining order does. It’s a way to stop someone from engaging in threatening behavior. In serious cases, the only way to stop the behavior is to order the offender to stay a certain distance from the victim. But it can also target specific things like contacting the victim’s friends or family, phone calls after certain times, or other unwanted behaviors. But before a court will do that, you have to prove that there is some danger to you. Most courts won’t order a behavior to stop unless there’s proof that it’s happening.
How To File A Restraining Order
Deciding to seek protection from someone who may wish you or your family harm can be frightening and isolating. The first step in protecting yourself from an aggressor, whether from domestic abuse, harassment, stalking, or threats, is a restraining order. Georgia has a relatively straightforward civil process to obtain a protective or restraining order. Throughout this process, by showing that the defendant means you harm, you must demonstrate the necessity of the restraining order to a judge. The more proof that you have of abuse, harassment, or harmful intentions, the better your chances of obtaining a restraining order are. Several different behaviors may constitute legal grounds for a restraining order. Getting a restraining order may be one of the procedures requested during a divorce case. If your health, well-being, or livelihood is at jeopardy because of another person, ask your lawyer about filing for a temporary protective order.
Physical Abuse and Threats of Harm
Acts or threats of violence are some of the most substantial pieces of evidence necessary to convince a judge. Any unwanted touching, pushing, and restraint may be considered physical abuse. Pictures, videos, and voice recordings go a long way towards proving abuse. Photos of the bodily damage caused and audio or video recordings of threats can also serve as evidence when filing for a restraining order.
If someone forced you into sexual activity without your consent, you have the right to apply for a sexual abuse protective order. At the hearing, you should be ready to have witnesses testify, give your testimony, and provide the judge with any evidence you have. Photos of your injuries and text messages from respondents are some examples of potential evidence in these cases.
Psychological and emotional abuse is also considered sufficient grounds for a temporary restraining order. Reliable evidence can include notes, text messages, or voice recordings in which the defendant demonstrates abusive behavior. Witness testimony can also prove a valuable asset. Note that such claims are not limited to physical threats, but include any ongoing harm to your emotional and mental well-being.
Stalking Protective Orders have their own rules in Utah. No proof of abuse or threats of violence is required. All that is needed is that you demonstrate that the accused is following you, making you feel uncomfortable, or invading your personal space. If you can provide proof of threatening or disturbing behavior through messages, videos, or pictures, you have a good chance of getting approval for a stalking order.
Depletion of Assets
If you can prove that the aggressor is hiding or destroying assets to punish you, this can also be grounds for a restraining order. Financial records or any written proof of financial wrongdoing can always aid your case. The court may also file a restraining order against a bank to prevent the defendant from hiding assets. Family Violence Protective Orders exist to protect anyone in a family from any other family member who poses a threat. These orders are particularly useful because they mandate that the defendant immediately vacate the family home. Temporary Protective Orders (TPO) typically last for 30 days. A judge will schedule a court date before the TPO expires where the victim can seek more permanent protection against the aggressor’s abuse or harassment.
How To Get An Order Of Protection Dismissed
It is possible to drop an order of protection once it has started in particular circumstances. However, the judge (or a different judge) needs to perform an evaluation of the current situation. In some circumstances where the order of protection has been filed is because of improper reasons. When this is explained to the judge, he or she may decide to quickly drop the outstanding order. Reversing the order when a spouse or partner either regrets or thinks the order of protection has been applied for the wrong reasons, it may require more work to reverse the order than it is when then the order was originally issued. A partner or spouse may call a judge through the appropriate means is there is a need for direct distance between the individuals. As long as there is reasonable evidence, this is usually granted and may require a complete order or one that prevents the other party from having contact.
Dropping The Protection Order
If there are no criminal charge claims the courts have aimed at the target of the order, the process is simpler and there is room for possibly dropping the order. However, when the situation solely involved the domestic relations courts, dropping the order is far less difficult. The petition order may be dropped if the parties can agree to file a dismissal. Furthermore, if the parties fail to show for a hearing, the petition loses its validity. In the absence of a prosecuting lawyer whose job is to pursue the case – there is no need to maintain the protection order if there is no interest from either party in keeping the order active. It is vitally important to hire a lawyer who knows what can be done so the order of protection may be dropped. Although the person has to initially file a dismissal, the other party may be a no-show for the hearing. A lawyer can also offer many helpful ways forward and explain how to proceed depending on the actions of the party that is protected.
How Do I Drop a Restraining Order?
When the person that had the restraining order issued needs to drop it for various reasons, he or she may need to research how to do so or contact a lawyer for assistance in this matter. Once the judge has the order in place, it may depend on other circumstances such as domestic violence charges issued to the other party before there is the possibility of the order dropping. The court’s permission is necessary to drop a restraining order, and the party needing to drop it must remain present in the courtroom before a judge. Even if the person that caused the circumstances to seek a restraining order lives with the protected party again does not mean the order will automatically drop. It is important that the protected party seeks to drop the order before any living or contact arrangements resume between the protected and target of the order. Otherwise, legal penalties and punishments may issue against the target of the order. It is also important to know the process according to the state where the person lives. Preparations for dropping a restraining order depend greatly on which party is seeking to drop the order. If this is the target of the order, he or she may need to provide proof that no evidence truly exists that necessitated the restraining order, or he or she may need to explain how the possible violent activity will not occur again in the future such as through counseling or anger management programs. If the protected person seeks to drop the order, he or she may need to explain to the courts how the circumstances no longer exist. A reconciliation of the relationship due to issues such as counseling or programs may provide the judge with the information he or she needs to drop the order properly. To pursue dropping a restraining order for whatever reason, it is important to have a lawyer on hand. Losing the restraining order removes the ability to have any violator from an arrest or violations held in court against the person. This could lead to further possible domestic or violent issues. This might also necessitate the dropping and dismissal of all criminal complaints against the other party for the event that caused the order’s issuance. This is often a necessary step when explaining before a judge why a restraining order is no longer needed. The protected person will usually discuss the matter with the lawyer first before progressing to the courtroom. Any possible doubts about lifting the restraining order may dissolve when talking with the lawyer. Meeting with legal representation may provide the information necessary to proceed to the next step. However, the legal professional will also discuss why keeping the order in place would benefit the individual. If the event that caused the issuance involved violence, abuse or an attack, lifting the order usually also lifts any protection against an attack or in law enforcement immediately arresting the person that causes the problem. The lawyer will discuss these matters fully before recommending what to do next to lift the restraining order.
State Requirements for Dropping the Order
Some states require the person that sought the order to meet with a state worker. In situations where the person wants to drop the restraining order, he or she may need to talk with the state employee tasked with the issue. Some states have the person discuss the reasons to drop it, counseling for victims and meetings if children are part of the greater issue. The primary concern with someone seeking to drop an order is that the individual may suffer from coercion or duress from the other party. Then, some states have certain forms that are different than in other states. Some require a motion to dismiss or dissolve the restraining order. The details of the forms may require certain names, dates and reasons for the dissolution of the restraining order. The motion requires notarization generally. Some may need a signature before a notary as well. Several copies are necessary, and the court clerk files the paperwork.
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