When someone threatens you or your loved one with emotional, psychological or physical violence, you may need to get the law involved to protect yourself. While looking for ways to protect yourself from forms of domestic violence, you may come across terms like “protective order” and “restraining order” and not know the difference. While these orders are similar in name, they are different in function. Here is what you should know about each:
If the Court finds that family violence has occurred and is likely to occur in the future, a victim of abuse can request a Protective Order to be put in place to prohibit their abuser from continuing with any physical violence, threats, stalking, harassment or otherwise abusive behavior. Often, when a person is arrested for domestic violence, an Emergency Protective Order may be ordered by the Magistrate or restrictive bond conditions may be put in place to protect the alleged victim when the Defendant is released on bond. Both have the ability to restrict how the Defendant can contact the alleged victim and can restrain the Defendant from going to the home, work or school, and restrict the Defendant from being within a certain distance from the alleged victim. These orders typically only last for a limited time period, however, it gives the alleged victim time to apply for and request a Protective Order, which could be in place for up to two years, and in specific circumstances and upon further evidence, could be in place for even longer than two years. Unlike restraining orders, violation of a protective order is a criminal offense and can lead to an immediate arrest of the Defendant.
In any divorce or custody action, it is common to request a Temporary Restraining Order, or TRO at the beginning of the case. It triggers a hearing for Temporary Orders which has to be set within 14 days of the TRO being signed. The TRO is an ex parte order, which means it is granted prior to a hearing on the issues, which will occur at the Temporary Orders hearing. It generally restricts the party who is personally served with the TRO immediately from causing bodily injury to the requesting party or children, making threats, making harassing and/or repetitive phone calls, and disturbing the peace of the other party or any children involved. When requested and provided with further evidence such as a sworn affidavit from the requesting party, a TRO can include orders prohibiting the other party from entering the residence, exclude them from possession or contact with the children, and exclude them from going to the children’s school, among other things. At the Temporary Orders Hearing, the requesting party will ask the Court to Order that the temporary restraining orders become temporary injunctions, which will be in place until amended by the Court or a final order is issued in the case. Unlike a protective order, temporary injunctions require a motion and hearing to be set in civil court if an alleged violation has occurred, and it is not a criminal offense in and of itself.
Get the protection you deserve
When you need protection from an abusive person, do not take chances by filing on your own. Consult with an attorney to get the help you need to get the order you need when you need it.
If you or your children’s health, safety and well-being are in immediate danger from physical violence, contact law enforcement and get you and your children to a safe place as soon as possible. Always remember that YOU must protect yourself first for the legal system to help you later.