For various reasons, a person might request a restraining order or order of protection against someone else. Usually, an order helps keep people safe from harm from an individual. Cases of domestic violence usually see a protective order in place.
The document can be temporary or permanent. You may have had someone issue a restraining order against you. If you believe the document is unfair, you can consult a lawyer to discuss your options.
Many people consider protective orders and restraining orders serious matters. You can face penalties for any violations. An attorney can advise you what you can do to avoid any punishments.
Differences Between a Restraining Order and Order of Protection
A restraining order and an order of protection have several similarities. The court has to approve and sign both documents for them to keep the victims safe. Some people use the two terms interchangeably. However, orders of protection and restraining orders have a few differences.
Protective orders usually apply to romantic partners and people who live with or are related to the abuser. The document prevents further physical and emotional harm in domestic violence and harassment cases.
The court may allow exceptions for victims of sexual assault and stalking despite a lack of relationship with the perpetrator. An order of protection generally only protects the person.
Someone does not have to be in a relationship or related to the abuser to file a restraining order. The order instructs a person what to do or what not to do for the specified time. The document can protect a person and property as well.
Orders of protection can last up to one or two years, but the court can extend the deadline or make the order permanent. Restraining orders start as temporary, and they can last a couple of weeks to a month. A judge can extend the order for several years or make it permanent.
Can Someone Change a Restraining Order?
A petitioner is a person who files a restraining order or order of protection against you. Several petitioners decide they want to modify an order sometime after they file for one. One reason for modification is both sides end up on better terms.
The petitioner can change what you can and cannot do in a restraining order. However, only the judge can alter the terms. A person would need to file to modify the document and wait for the court’s approval.
If you do not wait until the legal process changes the order of protection or restraining order, you could get into trouble for a violation.
Penalties for Restraining Order Violations
Judges issue roughly 1.7 million restraining orders every year for domestic violence cases. Violations are common among people with restraining orders. Several victims reach out to the aggressor for various reasons, but the action may not count as a violation.
People with an order of protection in place can experience a violation as well. Someone might have stalked the victim before the court issued the order. He or she is more likely to ignore the document and commit the crime again. A person who stays in the relationship has a higher chance of violations.
If someone ignores a restraining order or protective order, he or she could face criminal or civil penalties. One type of punishment is a fine. The amount varies based on the case and jurisdiction. Some people face jail time as a result of a violation.
In multiple cases, the court charges the person with contempt of court or a misdemeanor. Local law enforcement may seek to arrest the aggressor for a violation of a restraining order or order of protection. Repeat or severe offenses may result in a felony charge as well.
Authorities take orders of protection and restraining orders seriously. You should abide by one while you consult a defense attorney about what options you have.
What You Should Do
You may believe a restraining or protective order against you is unfair, and you could have a solid defense. However, you must obey the conditions. Contact a lawyer in the meantime to prepare for the hearing.
An attorney can help you collect physical evidence to build a defense. Evidence can include videos, photos, clothing, and other objects. You can use multiple records related to the case. Examples of records are emails, letters, and phone calls.
The plaintiff might argue you committed harassment with texts or calls, but phone records can prove otherwise. Additionally, photos and videos can show you were not at the scene of the incident. An attorney knows what can help your case.
In some instances, witnesses have information about the incident or accusations. You should collect their contact information, so you can use them for your defense. Make sure you attend the formal hearing, or the judge could see your absence as an admission of guilt.
What You Should Avoid
When someone files a restraining order or order of protection against you, you should avoid certain actions. For example, you have the idea to get rid of any evidence you think could hurt your case. However, you should avoid doing so since the act could lead to trouble with the court.
A few people make the mistake of contacting the petitioner in any way. A restraining order prohibits any form of communication. You likely will face the consequences of a violation. If the petitioner produces witnesses, do not talk to them either.
In a criminal case, the court could view your communication with the witness as interference with the testimony. As a result, you may receive a misdemeanor or felony charge. An order of protection may prevent any visitation with children you have with the petitioner.
Never visit a child at school or another person’s house if the order of protection covers them. The person who filed an order against you might argue you violated it. An attorney can let you know more about what you should not do as you prepare for a hearing.