5 Things to Know About Anti-Harassment and Restraining Orders

You are being harassed due to a dispute or break up.  You do not want any contact with the other person for the time being or beyond.  There are different types of civil protection orders, and you need to determine which fits your situation.  What should you know about protection orders?


1. A civil protective order is a court order to stop harassing you.


A court order means that a judge signs a document commanding a person to stop harassing behavior aimed at you.  Seeking a civil order means you are not asking for the other person to be jailed or charged with a crime as long as they do not violate the order.  A civil protection order commands the other person not to make contact with you, either in person, through the phone or internet, on social media, or through another person.  A protection order also bars the other person from entering or coming near your home, school, and place of employment.  Violation of the order may result in arrest and charges.


2. If there is an emergency, call 911 immediately.


A civil anti-harassment or restraining order may be an appropriate measure if it is related to civil litigation, divorce, or a child custody dispute.  A protection order is issued by the court system, which is separate from the police.  If you feel you are in immediate danger of assault or other crime, call 911 and decide later if seeking a protection order is the proper next step to take.  A criminal protection order relating to the charges of the suspect may be appropriate; criminal protection orders are not discussed here.

3. There are different types of protection orders depending on your situation.


There are several different types of civil protection orders.  A “restraining order” stems from an ongoing family law case, such as a divorce or child custody dispute.  An “anti-harassment order” is for cases that do not involve a spouse or the parent of your child, such as an acquaintance or neighbor.  Other types of civil protection orders are available for victims of domestic violence and vulnerable adults.  An attorney can help you understand what type of protection order is appropriate for your circumstances.


4. A temporary protective order initially lasts 14 days and can result in arrest if violated.


To obtain a protective order, you will fill out an application stating why you need protection and have it signed by a judge.  The person you are seeking protection from will be notified and the order will be in effect as soon as this happens.  If you need protection beyond 14 days, an order can be extended or made permanent.  Violation of a domestic violence protection order or restraining order results in mandatory arrest and potential charges.  Police officers have discretion to arrest someone who violator of an anti-harassment order.  Violation of a protective order is a gross misdemeanor and the person can also be held in contempt.  If you are assaulted, the potential charges are more serious.


5. Restrictions on seeking a protection order.   


There are no restrictions on seeking an order due to the other person being a family member, spouse, parent to your child, or member of the same sex.Generally, any adult may seek a protection order.Minors may require protection against a parent, family member, or dating partner.The type of order sought affects whether the minor can seek an order directly or if an adult must do so on her behalf.Contact an attorney to help determine what type of protection order is necessary and who is protected.

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