A restraining order is a court order which instructs an individual to abide by certain conditions. Restraining orders may also direct individuals to refrain from engaging in certain acts.

A restraining order is issued by a court and is therefore enforceable according to various state laws. Violating a court-issued restraining order can lead to legal consequences for the violator.

The majority of restraining orders, or protective orders, are issued in relation to:

  • Instances of domestic abuse;
  • Domestic violence
  • Stalking;
  • Harassment; or
  • Neighborly disputes.

Parents and guardians can request restraining orders on behalf of children or minors. A restraining order can come in a variety of forms, such as a permanent order or a temporary restraining order.

One of the most common requirements for a restraining order is that the individual is not permitted to have any contact with the other named individual, often the victim of domestic violence, stalking, or harassment. Essentially, the individual being restrained by the order is not permitted to make any physical contact or verbal communication with the victim. These requirements are known as no-contact provisions.

Some common requirements in connection with no-contact orders may include:

  • Not allowing any physical contact between the defendant and the victim;
  • A specific restraining order distance, such as not allowing the defendant to come within a certain distance of the victim, such as 10 feet or 100 yards;
  • Not allowing the defendant to communicate with the victim via:
    • phone;
    • e-mail;
    • postal mail;
    • text;
    • online chat; or
    • other types of communication;
  • Not allowing the defendant to enter the victim’s family home or residence;
  • Not allowing the defendant to possess or purchase a firearm;
  • Prohibiting the defendant from selling marital property; and
  • Requiring the children of the defendant to be removed from the jurisdiction.

The no-contact provisions provide a victim with a space where they can be free from contact with the defendant. No-contact requirements are common if an incident involved some form of violence or sexual aggression.

Do No-Contact Restraining Orders Contain Any Other Requirements?

Yes, there are some other no-contact restraining order rules which may apply. These may include a variety of other requirements which compel a defendant to take certain actions.

These actions may vary according to the nature of the offense as well as the relationship of the parties involved. Other requirements which may be contained in a no-contact order include:

  • Requiring the defendant to take financial actions, such as:
    • making loan payments;
    • paying bills; or
    • returning personal belongings to the victim;
  • Requiring the defendant to attend mandatory counseling programs; and
  • Denying the defendant of control over jointly-owned property, including:
    • bank accounts;
    • vehicles; or
    • major household appliances.

A court often has discretion to tailor a restraining order according to the unique needs of a victim. Therefore, a just may order any reasonable directives which it feels are necessary for the protection of the victim. A no-contact order can also be modified or altered over time in response to a defendant’s behavior.

What Qualifies for a No-Contact Restraining Order?

When an individual is requesting a restraining order, they will need to provide basic proof that they are being victimized by another individual. Acceptable evidence may include:

  • Physical evidence;
  • Witness testimony; and
  • Written statements.

Actions which may result in the issuance of a restraining order include, but are not limited to:

  • Harassment;
  • Stalking;
  • Physical violence;
  • Sexual assault;
  • Mental abuse;
  • Emotional abuse;
  • Kidnapping;
  • Assault; and
  • Battery.

How Do I File a No-Contact Restraining Order?

A restraining order is typically obtained in connection with a trial or by a direct request to the court. This commonly occurs in connection with domestic violence trials.

In some cases, filing a no-contact order may be possible without the defendant, or the other party, being present. This is referred to as an ex parte order, which is often a provisional order that is later changed to a more lasting order.

In order to file a restraining order, the victim should go to the clerk’s office in the county in which they reside, the county in which the defendant resides, or the county in which there is already a case pending and inform them of the need to file for a restraining order, also sometimes called a protection from abuse order. The clerk’s office will provide the necessary forms.

If an emergency order is necessary, the victim should also inform the clerk’s office of the issue of imminent danger. They will provide the necessary forms for that order as well.

How Long Do Restraining Orders Last?

The duration of a restraining order depends on the type of order and the specific facts of the case. A restraining order that is issued prior to the court having an opportunity to review the facts only typically lasts for a few days or weeks. Typically, the order will not expire until there is a hearing.

At the hearing, the court will hear from both parties and make a determination as to whether a permanent restraining order is necessary and appropriate. A permanent restraining order may not expire for years.

In some states, there are limits as to how long a restraining order can last, but they allow a court to issue a longer order, depending on the circumstances. In Texas, for example, a domestic violence restraining order can only last for 2 years.

Can I Contest a Restraining Order?

Yes, an individual may contest a restraining order. If an individual is served with a temporary restraining order, it is very important to comply with that order. The individual will have the opportunity to contest a permanent order at the hearing.

If the information that was used to obtain a restraining order was not accurate, then a defendant will need to bring evidence to the hearing to show that the allegations are, in fact, false. If children are involved or the restraining order affects the defendant’s access to their home or their workplace, a court may consider those factors and address them in the final restraining order. It is important to note that a restraining order can still be issued even if it means forcing the defendant to move out of their home or preventing them from going to work.

What Are the Consequences of Violating a Restraining Order?

A no-contact restraining order is very strictly enforced in order to protect a victim from any further harm by an offender. A no-contact order violation may result in the following consequences:

  • Criminal penalties for the individual in violation of the order, such as:
    • fines;
    • loss of civil rights; and
    • possible jail or prison time;
  • Enforcement of a stricter restraining order; and
  • Placing the defendant in contempt of court, which, in itself, may also carry various criminal or civil penalties.

The violation of a no-contact restraining order is punishable according to the rules in the jurisdiction where the order was issued. An individual who is further victimized by restraining order violations should report those violations to the proper authorities or to their lawyer.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Issues with a No-Contact Restraining Order?

Yes, it is essential to have the assistance of a criminal lawyer for any issues you are facing with a no-contact restraining order. A no-contact restraining order can be very useful in providing you with protections under the law.

An attorney can assist both a party who is seeking legal protection and a party being subjected to a no-contact restraining order to ensure that their rights are protected. Having an attorney helping you will ensure the order is applied fairly and will protect the rights of all parties involved.