The Process Following Your Restraining Order Violation

Restraining orders protect someone from the restrained person. Restraining orders prevent the defendant from doing different things depending on what the protected person dictates. Here’s what happens if you violate your own restraining order.

What happens if the protected person violates their own restraining order? Each state has different laws and regulations for restraining orders. Although commonalities regarding restraining orders exist, differences in their enforcement and consequences may apply if you violate your own restraining order.

What is a Restraining Order?

A restraining order, also known as a protective order or order of protection, is a legal document a judge orders to protect someone from danger or harm. Restraining orders may include provisions designating them as personal conduct orders, stay-away orders, or residence exclusion orders (also known as “kick-out” or “move-out” orders). The designations may have slightly different names depending on the state, but they tend to follow similar patterns regarding what the order restricts.

Each restraining order may include different sets of restrictions.

Related: How to Get a Restraining Order in Virginia

Personal Conduct Orders

Restraining orders, which fall under the personal conduct umbrella, restrict the actions a restrained person can take. For example, a personal conduct order may prevent the restrained person from contacting, stalking, harassing, threatening, attacking, destroying personal property or disturbing the protected person or people’s peace and privacy.

Stay-Away Orders

Restraining orders may require the restrained person to keep a certain distance from the protected person. The restrained person may have limits on how close they can get to the protected person by an exact distance, such as not getting within 100 yards of the person.

Residence Exclusion Orders

Residence exclusion orders tell the restrained person to leave the protected person’s residence. In most states, a residence exclusion order will allow the restrained person to collect their items before leaving the residence, often accompanied by a law enforcement officer.

What Happens if Someone Violates Your Restraining Order?

Different consequences for violating a restraining order may apply depending on the state. In California, punishments include jail time, fines, and, in repeat cases, contempt of court charges.

In New York, violators can face a criminal contempt charge as a misdemeanor or felony, leading to jail or prison time. In Texas, a violation can range from a misdemeanor to a felony, depending on various factors, including if the violation is a reoccurring offense.

Research your state’s potential consequences for violating restraining orders. Restraining orders protect from harm, and if the restrained person is a repeat violator, t increased levels of punishment may apply. As a result, you should document evidence of violations and keep law enforcement informed.

If your restraining order restrains someone from being near you, call the police immediately if they are
near you and you may be in danger. In many states, police who witness a violation are likely to punish the restrained person.

Related: Illinois Restraining Orders: The Basics

So, What if You Violate Your Own Restraining Order?

In most cases, the restraining order only applies to the actions of the restrained person. The protected person cannot violate their own restraining order. Certain restraining orders may discourage actions leading to contact between the restrained person and the protected person.

If the restraining order prevents the restrained person from contacting you, you could still contact them. If the order prevents the restrained person from getting within 100 yards of someone, the protected person could still come within 100 yards of them. However, the restrained person could not respond and would have to move outside the required distance. Therefore, protected persons should avoid any actions related to your restraining order.

You should not violate your own restraining order. If the protected person goes against the restraining order, it may make it difficult to determine if the restrained person violates the restraining order. The process for gaining and renewing restraining orders depends upon a judge believing in its necessity. Therefore, violating your own restraining order may jeopardize your ability to make temporary restraining orders permanent, renew permanent restraining orders, or get emergency restraining orders.

Most law enforcement agencies and legal professionals advise against contacting the restrained person, inviting them to visit you, or acting in any way leading the restrained person to violate your restraining order.

For example, you should not let someone with a restraining order with residence exclusion stay with you for a night. You should not make a phone call to someone you have a restraining order with personal conduct restriction preventing contact. However, if you act against this advice, you are unlikely to face punishment from the state as the restraining order does not restrain you.

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