What Happens If A Person Breaks A Restraining Order?

A restraining order, sometimes called an order of protection, is a binding legal order issued by a court. Typically, a restraining order is issued when one party is accused of stalking, harassing, endangering or using violence against another party. The victim requests the restraining order as a means of protecting themselves from the aggressor. Terms in a restraining order differ depending upon the behavior exhibited by the aggressor. Sometimes the aggressor is restrained from approaching the home or place of work of the victim. They may also be prohibited from contacting the victim whether in person or by electronic means. Many aggressors who have a restraining order against them will intentionally violate the order. The consequences for doing so can be serious.

Typical Consequences for Restraining Order Violation

A person who violates an order of protection may be facing fines, jail time or both. Restraining order violation is most often charged as a misdemeanor, though it may become a felony under some circumstances. For instance, if a person is arrested for violating a protection order, and this violation was committed in concurrence with another crime like vandalism or assault, many jurisdictions will elevate the charges to a felony. At the misdemeanor level, the aggressor may be facing up to a year in jail and fines of a few thousand dollars. At the felony level, the aggressor could be looking at five years or more in prison and considerable fines.

Enforcing a Restraining Order

The person who has obtained a restraining order should be careful to keep a copy of the order with them at all times. This way, if the order is violated in any manner, the victim can immediately show the protective order to the police who respond to the call. For the order to be most effective, the victim needs to strictly enforce it. That means contacting the police any time the order is violated, even if the contact appears benign. Failing to file a complaint can make it difficult to enforce the order later. It’s also important to promptly report any incidents between the victim and the aggressor. Authorities frequently cannot act if too much time has elapsed between the incident and when it was reported.

A restraining order may only be a piece of paper, but it is nonetheless legally binding. This means that the restrained individual may be facing serious consequences for violating the order.

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