Restraining Order

Restraining Orders and Protective Orders: Understanding Your Options

Domestic violence is a situation I would never wish on anyone. Not only does domestic violence lead to physical injuries, but it can also lead to emotional and mental scars. It is no surprise that many victims of domestic violence do not feel safe wherever they are, even after their abuser has been pursued by law enforcement.

One of the options for survivors of domestic violence is restraining orders and protective orders. Learn about what options are available for victims of domestic violence below. I hope you never have to use the information provided, but it is important to know what routes are available in the event that you or a loved one ever need them.

What is a Restraining Order?

Many people have heard of the term restraining order, but not many know what it actually is. What a lot of people don’t know is that restraining orders can only be filed alongside a civil suit such as a divorce or a civil dispute over alleged sexual harassment. Regardless of what the restraining order is filed in conjunction with, it usually orders the perpetrator of the abuse to stay a certain distance away from their victim, home, workplace, and school. In addition, the perpetrator is ordered to make no contact with the victim.

Usually, violating a restraining order is treated as contempt of court. Therefore, it is usually punished with a fine and a few months of jail time. Make sure to research the specific rules in your state for more accurate information.

What is a Protective Order?

Another option for domestic violence survivors is to opt for a protective order. Protective orders are similar to restraining orders in that they order the alleged abuser to stay away from their victim, but they are usually much more intense and serious in their punishments. For example, violating a protective order is considered a criminal offense and police are notified once the protective order is filed. Punishment for violating a protective order is usually a much more stiff fine than a restraining order, such as up to 4,000 dollars, and the possibility of one year of jail, as typical with Class A misdemeanors. However, those with two prior convictions of violating protective orders can be charged with a felony.

What to Do

If you are interested in filing a restraining or protective order, your first step is to reach out to an attorney. Attorneys can help you choose which option is best for you and help start the filing process. They can also explain how you will be protected under both options and advise you on what to do if your abuser contacts you after the order has been filed. Your safety and the safety of your family should be your number one priority, and an attorney can make sure that you are able to stay safe while you are moving on. 

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