If you are dealing with a restraining order, you may be wondering how long it will last. Serving or receiving a restraining order always creates a very stressful situation for everyone involved, and understanding how restraining orders work is beneficial. Rules surrounding restraining orders may differ depending on your circumstances, so you should speak to a criminal defense lawyer in person if you are unsure what a restraining order will do in your case.
What Is a Restraining Order?
A restraining order is a command issued by a court intended to prevent a person from performing a threatened action. A plaintiff may ask the court to issue a restraining order on anyone to prevent such a person from completing a dangerous act, as long as the request meets the criteria required to request and obtain a restraining order.
To decide whether a restraining order is allowed, the court will determine:
- Whether the plaintiff will suffer some irreparable injury if the court does not grant the order.
- Whether the plaintiff is likely to succeed in their request based on the case’s merits.
- Whether the defendant will be harmed more than the plaintiff is helped.
- Whether granting the order is in the public interest.
If these four criteria are met, and the court can justify a restraining order, it will grant the plaintiff’s request and serve a restraining order to the defendant.
Who Can Receive a Restraining Order?
Courts issue restraining orders for many reasons.
The most common parties who will receive a restraining order include:
- Domestic abusers
- Employers or employees threatening to reveal sensitive information
- Someone who is infringing on another’s copyrights
The most common cause of giving a restraining order is to protect women and children from people who are abusing them, harassing them, or stalking them. No matter which state issues a restraining order, the person it covers must respect the order in all other U.S. states and territories.
How Long Do Restraining Orders Last?
How long restraining orders last will depend on the circumstances of the order. In cases of copyright infringement or employment disputes, restraining orders are temporary. If you are dealing with a restraining order for a labor dispute, the law sets a five-day limit. In contrast, a restraining order for copyright infringement generally lasts only until the parties have resolved their issues.
However, if the restraining order prevents domestic violence, abuse, harassment, or stalking, it will last longer. In general, a restraining order will last for two years. The court may extend that period if they wish, but they must present evidence that this is necessary to protect those who requested the restraining order.
If a victim wants to reapply for a restraining order after the first order expires, they can do so. They must demonstrate the continued danger per the evidence and information they included in the first restraining order application.
What Is Required To Get a Restraining Order?
The court needs evidence that such an order is necessary to issue a restraining order. Within 20 days of the initial application for a restraining order, the court will hold a hearing to examine the evidence for a restraining order. The application for a restraining order must include a detailed account of the danger to the individual, including what they have experienced and can expect to experience in the future.
In addition to a permanent restraining order, a person may also request an ex parte temporary restraining order that goes into effect immediately and is designed to protect the family while they await a hearing and a permanent order. Ex parte orders do not exceed 20 days.
What Actions Do Restraining Orders Prevent?
If you are served with a restraining order, you must not:
- Remove a child from their home
- Remove shared property from the house
- Return to a home once jointly shared that now belongs to the plaintiff who issued the order
- Communicate with or threaten any member of the family who issued the restraining order
Likely, the court will also require you to undergo a program of some kind or get counseling to help you overcome your issues.
What Do I Do if I Am Served With a Restraining Order?
If you are served with a restraining order that you do not deserve, you can get help from a criminal defense team to dispute the order. It is crucial that you obey the order, though, because violating a restraining order is likely to end in your arrest and often comes with other serious consequences.
While you wait for your hearing:
- Hire a criminal defense lawyer who can help you build a case for your innocence.
- Gather evidence that you have, such as emails, text messages, phone calls, photographs, videos, or documents that might prove you did not commit the actions charged against you.
- Talk to any witnesses who can vouch for your innocence.
Once you have gathered this evidence, you and your lawyer will attend the hearing and make a case for your innocence. If you have enough evidence, you should be set free from any temporary restraining order and allowed to carry on with life as usual.
If you receive a restraining order, you should not attempt to fight against it without legal help. A restraining order will remain on your record for life and can prevent you from many things, such as buying homes, purchasing firearms, or getting specific jobs. If you find that someone in your life has served you a restraining order, seek out legal help immediately.
A skilled and knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer can help you prove your innocence and remove a restraining order so that you can get back to life as usual. Do not hesitate to reach out to a lawyer for a free consultation on your case.