A restraining order, also referred to as an order of protection, is an order that is issued by a court of law that is intended to restrict an individual from harming another individual. A restraining order is most typically issued in certain types of cases, including:
- Domestic violence; and
- Sexual assault cases.
A restraining order generally requires that the individual whom the order is issued against either does not engage in or engages in a certain act. For example, a restraining order may require an individual to stay 300 feet away from the individual who requested the restraining order.
In the alternative, a restraining order may require that an individual cease contacting the individual who requested the order. A restraining order may last for several days or several years.
It may also include criminal penalties if the order is violated. In general, a restraining order is issued in order to prevent one individual from physically harming another individual.
A restraining order, however, may also be issued to prevent economic or emotional harm. In addition, restraining orders may be issued to protect singular individuals as well as other family members and friends.
An example of this situation would be a child protection order. A protection order may also be put in place to protect:
- A business;
- Property; or
- The general public.
As previously noted, a restraining order may last for varying amounts of time, based upon the needs of the individual who is seeking protection as well as the court that ordered the protective measure. There are several different types of restraining orders that have different time frames, including:
- Emergency protective order (EPO): These orders are effective immediately. They are generally reserved for situations in which the safety and wellbeing of an individual or child is at risk;
- The most common example is when a violent domestic dispute occurs. EPOs typically expire in a week or less or will last until a hearing can take place;
- Temporary restraining order (TRO): A temporary restraining order is essentially a normal restraining order, lasting for a limited duration as it expires within a few weeks. In the alternative, it may last until a full restraining order hearing takes place in order to determine how long the order should be kept in place; and
- Permanent restraining order (PRO): These orders are intended to last for a set number of years. They may be renewed or extended if the threatening behavior has not stopped.
When an individual is requesting a restraining order, they will have to provide basic proof that they are being victimized by another party. Acceptable evidence of this may include:
- Physical evidence;
- Witness testimony; and
- Written statements.
Actions which result in the issuance of a restraining order include, but are not limited to:
- Physical violence;
- Sexual assault;
- Mental abuse;
- Emotional abuse;
- Kidnapping; and
- Assault or battery.
A restraining order is generally obtained in connection with a trial or by a direct request made to a judge. One example of obtaining a restraining order in connection with a trial would be a domestic violence trial.
This type of restraining order often evolves into a more permanent restraining order. Directly requesting a restraining order with a judge most commonly occurs in conjunction with an emergency restraining order or a temporary restraining order.
In addition, there are some restraining orders which may be obtained without the other party, the offender, being present. These types of orders are referred to as ex parte orders.
Ex parte orders are most often provisional orders that are later changed into more lasting orders. Whether or not an order may be modified depends upon the type of restraining order which was initially issued.
In most cases, a restraining order modification involves turning a temporary order into a more permanent order. An example of this would be when a temporary restraining order is issued at the beginning of a trial to protect a victim which the trial is occurring.
Once the trial is complete, the court may issue a permanent order if they determine the offender committed the behavior they were accused of.
Restraining orders may be relaxed or lifted if an offender demonstrates that they are rehabilitated or that they have completed various reformation requirements. These requirements may include parole or probation.
No matter the type of modification, it must go through the court system and be approved by a judge. If the order is violated, the violator may be charged with contempt of court or face some other type of punishment, including criminal penalties.
CLETS restraining orders are only available in California. CLETS stands for the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System. This means that the information is provided to law enforcement.
If a CLETS restraining order is in place against an individual, they cannot be in possession of a firearm. This may have a significant impact on an individual if they are employed in a profession which requires a gun, such as a security guard or a law enforcement officer.
In addition, a CLETS restraining order will show up on a background check. Other lesser forms of restraining orders do not.