Restraining Orders

What is the difference between a temporary restraining order and a restraining order after hearing?

The terminology used differs from state to state - restraining orders and protective orders are examples of orders issued by a court restraining the conduct of a person and protecting a victim from the activities of an abusive person.

A "Temporary Restraining Order" is ordinarily issued after an "ex parte appearance" (an appearance in court by one party without the other being present). The Temporary Restraining Order is an order of the court that states that a person is to refrain from particular acts and to stay away from particular places. 

A Temporary Restraining Order becomes effective only once it has been served on the restrained person (so s/he has notice and can seek an opportunity to be heard). In addition to the Temporary Restraining Order, an "Order to Show Cause" hearing is scheduled so that both parties will have the opportunity to explain to the court the reasons why a more "permanent" restraining order should or should not be issued.

Temporary Restraining Orders usually can be issued the same day they are requested and remain in effect until the scheduled hearing on the Order to Show Cause. The Order to Show Cause hearing is typically scheduled to occur within 15 or 20 days.

Once the Temporary Restraining Order and Order to Show Cause have been served on the person to be restrained, a hearing can be held to determine whether there is sufficient cause for a court to issue a more "permanent" restraining order. Based upon the evidence presented at this hearing, a court can order the restrained person from engaging in certain acts and from being in certain places (such as the victims' residence and place or employment). After a hearing, a Restraining Order can remain in effect for a period of time, even several years. This Restraining Order After Hearing can also be renewed for additional periods of time upon application by the protected person, and its duration may become permanent.

What is the penalty for violation of a restraining order?

Violation of a restraining order, whether a temporary order or a restraining order after hearing, is a contempt of a court order. The restrained person found in violation of a valid restraining order may be immediately taken into custody and taken to jail. In addition, the offender can be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony crime, and could be sentenced to serve time in jail and to pay a fine for the offense.

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