A restraining order (also called a “protective order”) is a court order that can protect someone from being physically or sexually abused, threatened, stalked, or harassed. The person getting the restraining order is called the “protected person.” The person the restraining order is against is the “restrained person.” Sometimes, restraining orders include other “protected persons” like family or household members of the protected person.
What does a restraining order do?
In general restraining orders can include:
- Personal conduct orders
These are orders to stop specific acts against everyone named in the restraining order as a “protected person.” Some of the things that the restrained person can be ordered to stop are:
- Contacting, calling, or sending any messages (including e-mail);
- Attacking, striking, or battering;
- Sexually assaulting;
- Destroying personal property; or
- Disturbing the peace of the protected people.
- Stay-away orders
These are orders to keep the restrained person a certain distance away (like 50 or 100 yards) from:
- The protected person or persons;
- Where the protected person lives;
- His or her place of work;
- His or her children’s schools or places of child care;
- His or her vehicle;
- Other important places where he or she goes.
- Residence exclusion (“kick-out” or “move-out”) orders
These are orders telling the restrained person to move out from where the protected person lives and to take only clothing and personal belongings until the court hearing. These orders can only be asked for in domestic violence or elder or dependent adult abuse restraining order cases.
For the person to be restrained, having a restraining order against him or her can have very serious consequences:
- He or she will not be able to go to certain places or to do certain things.
- He or she might have to move out of his or her home.
- It may affect his or her ability to see his or her children.
- He or she will generally not be able to own a gun. (And he or she will have to turn in, sell or store any guns they have now and not be able to buy a gun while the restraining order is in effect.)
- It may affect his or her immigration status if he or she is trying to get a green card or a visa.
If the restrained person violates (breaks) the restraining order, he or she may go to jail, or pay a fine, or both.
Types of restraining orders
There are 4 kinds of orders you can ask for:
Domestic Violence Restraining Order
You can ask for a domestic violence restraining order if:
- Someone has abused you, and
- You have a close relationship with that person (married or registered domestic partners, divorced, separated, dating or used to date, have a child together, or live together or used to live together — but more than roommates), or you are closely related (parent, child, brother, sister, grandmother, grandfather, in-law).
Find more information about domestic violence.
Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse Restraining Order
You can ask for an elder or dependent adult abuse restraining order if:
- You are 65 or older, OR
- You are between 18 and 64 and have certain mental or physical disabilities that keep you from being able to do normal activities or protect yourself;
- You are a victim of:
- Physical or financial abuse,
- Neglect or abandonment,
- Treatment that has physically or mentally hurt you, or
- Deprivation by a caregiver of basic things or services you need so you will not suffer physically, mentally, or emotionally.
Find more information about Elder and Dependent Abuse.
Civil Harassment Restraining Order
You can ask for a civil harassment restraining order if you are being harassed, stalked, abused, or threatened by someone you are not as close to as is required under domestic violence cases, like a roommate, a neighbor, or more distant family members like cousins, aunts or uncles, or nieces or nephews.
Find more information about Civil Harassment.
Workplace Violence Restraining Order
You can ask for a workplace violence restraining order if:
- You are an employer, and
- You ask for a restraining order to protect an employee who has suffered stalking, serious harassment, violence, or a credible (real) threat of violence at the workplace.
An employee CANNOT ask for a workplace violence restraining order. If the employee wants to protect him or herself, he or she can ask for a civil harassment restraining order (or a domestic violence restraining order if the abuser is a partner/spouse or former partner/spouse or close family member).
Find more information about Workplace Violence.