Restraining orders are temporary and permanent and are designed to protect victims from violence or threats of harm. Most restraining orders are issued in the context of a domestic abuse situation where the victim fears sexual assault, physical harm, or threats of violence.
Anyone who feels they are being harassed can seek a restraining or protective order. There does not have to be any evidence of physical violence; only a credible threat of one. Also, if the accused offender has followed a recent course of conduct or activity that seriously annoys or alarms someone, such as stalking, making repeated threatening or harassing phone calls, emails, or letters, and the conduct serves no valid purpose, then a restraining order may be issued.
The victim and the harasser need not be in any kind of relationship. The order can prohibit the harasser or abuser from any contact with the victim and to keep away from the victim’s home, school or office. The order can specify a certain distance from the victim to which the offender must adhere.
You can request a restraining order by yourself by completing certain forms and submitting them to a court clerk who will give it to a judge for his or her determination within one business day.
If issued, the order can be served by a process server or by law enforcement. The restraining order goes into effect upon the judge’s signature.
If you have or had a close or intimate relationship with an abuser, such as a spouse, former spouse, domestic partner, parent, current or former boyfriend or girlfriend, sibling, or grandparent, and that person has abused you, you can request a domestic violence protective order.
The violence can be a reasonable fear of physical harm or violence against your property. Physical violence can include any offensive contact such as pushing, throwing objects at you, scaring you, or impeding your freedom of movement. Also, the accused will usually be prohibited from owning a firearm.
A domestic violence restraining order lasts from 20 to 25 days before a hearing on whether a Permanent Restraining Order should issue. This is an evidentiary hearing before a judge who will consider evidence of the threatening or physical conduct and arguments by the accused, and decide whether to issue a permanent order. The permanent order lasts up to 3 years, but it can be renewed.
These are protective orders for victims who are at least 65 years of age or a dependent adult between 18 and 64 with developmental or mental disabilities.
The alleged abuse can include physical violence, threats of violence, financial abuse, abandonment, or deprivation by a caregiver of what the adult needs to avoid harm or suffering.
The abuser can be prohibited from any contact with the victim, to move out of the house, and to refrain from certain activities.
This type of protective order lasts until a court date at which time the court will consider whether a Permanent Restraining Order should issue for up to 3 years.
These are protective orders directed against an individual preventing him or her from harassing or threatening the victim or even being near him or her. The accused can be prohibited from possessing a gun.
The order can only be requested by the employer on behalf of the employee who has a reasonable or credible fear of violence or threats or has suffered an assault, battery, or threat of harm at the workplace. The accused must not have been engaged in a protected activity such as free speech. Sending harassing messages, stalking, or placing the employee at the workplace in reasonable fear of his or her safety is not legally protected activity.
The order can prevent the accused from continuing the harassing or violent activity and to keep away from the employee or his or her children; from the employee’s school or children’s school; and to not possess a firearm.
If the employer refuses or neglects to act, the victim can still request a civil harassment restraining order or domestic violence restraining order if there is or was an intimate relationship between the victim and abuser.
Like other restraining orders, this is a temporary one that lasts until the court hearing on whether a permanent order, or one that lasts up to 3 years, should issue.