The legal system in the United States has many different restraining orders that a person can file to protect themselves from someone who is harassing or harming them. Two of the most common types of restraining orders are harassment restraining orders and domestic violence restraining orders.
Each restraining order has specific requirements and procedures, but there are some general differences between the two. This article will discuss these critical differences between harassment restraining orders and domestic violence restraining orders.
What is a restraining order?
A restraining order is a legally binding order issued by a court that requires one person to stop harming or harassing another person. Restraining orders are usually issued in domestic violence or stalking cases, but we can also use them in other situations where one person feels threatened by another.
Sometimes called injunctions or orders of protection, restraining orders are meant to protect the victim from further harm or harassment by preventing the offender from having any contact with them. This can include prohibiting the offender from coming within a certain distance of the victim, contacting them through any means, or making any type of threats against them.
Harassment restraining orders
A harassment restraining order is a type of restraining order that a court can issue in cases of harassment. In order to obtain a harassment restraining order, the victim must first file a petition with the court. The petition must include information about the nature of the harassment and its effect on the victim. The victim will also need to provide evidence to support their claims.
Once the petition has been filed, a judge will review it and decide whether or not to issue the restraining order. If the judge decides that the victim has shown enough evidence of harassment, they will issue a temporary restraining order.
This temporary restraining order will last for a period, usually up to four years. The offender will be notified of the order during this time and must stay away from the victim. The offender will also be given a chance to attend a hearing, where they can present their side of the story and argue against the restraining order being made permanent.
What is considered “harassment”?
The legal definition of harassment can vary from state to state, but it generally includes any type of behavior intended to annoy, threaten, or intimidate another person.
This can include making repetitive phone calls, sending unwanted text messages or emails, showing up at someone’s home or workplace uninvited, making threats of violence, or vandalizing someone’s property.
In some states, harassment can also include:
- Making lewd or obscene comments.
- Posting offensive material about someone online.
- Sending unsolicited gifts.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is also considered a form of harassment. In those cases, it is usually handled through the employer’s internal grievance procedures.
Domestic violence restraining orders
On the other hand, a domestic violence restraining order is a type of restraining order that a court can issue in domestic violence cases. Domestic violence is defined as any type of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse that occurs between family members or intimate partners.
Non-related adults, live-in friends or those who have dated in the past can also be protected under domestic violence restraining orders. This injunction differs from a harassment restraining order in that it is meant to protect the victim from further harm or abuse, not just harassment.
It’s also meant to target somebody who lives dangerously close to the victim (i.e., in the same house) and has already been violent or abusive. Verbal threats of violence can also be included under the domestic violence category.
Like with harassment restraining orders, the victim must first file a petition with the court to obtain a domestic violence restraining order. After being reviewed by a judge, the offender will be notified of the order and must stay away from the victim.
How do restraining orders work?
In both cases, the offender will be ordered to stay a certain distance away from the victim and may also be ordered to have no contact with them. They cannot call, text, email, or otherwise communicate with the victim.
The judge may also order the offender to stay away from the victim’s home, workplace, school, or any other place that the victim frequents. They’ll have to move out of the home if they live with the victim.
If the offender violates any of the terms of the restraining order, they can be arrested and charged with a crime. The penalties for violating a restraining order can vary from state to state, including jail time, fines, and mandatory counseling.
In some cases, the offender may even be required to wear a GPS tracking device so that law enforcement can monitor their whereabouts.
What is the difference between a restraining order and an injunction?
The terms “restraining order” and “injunction” are often used interchangeably, but there is a slight difference between the two. An injunction is usually imposed before criminal charges are filed, while a restraining order is set after the defendant has been proved guilty.
How to get a restraining order
If you fear for your or your child’s safety, you can contact your local police department or domestic violence hotline to get help. They will be able to tell you how to file a restraining order in your state.
You will need to fill out some paperwork and appear in court to explain why you need the restraining order. When the time comes to go to court, we highly recommend bringing an expert in criminal law with you.
If the judge decides that there is enough evidence to grant the restraining order, they will sign it, and the offender will be served with the order. The order will then go into effect, and the offender will be required to comply with its terms.
If you have been the victim of domestic violence or harassment, don’t hesitate to contact Vandel Heuvel & Dineen for help. We offer free consultations with an experienced Wisconsin criminal lawyer who can help you understand your legal options.