A restraining order, also called a protection or protective order, is a legally binding order issued by a judge that restrains a person’s actions regarding another person. A domestic violence restraining order typically prohibits a person from contacting, attempting to contact, harassing, threatening or harming another person. Harm can refer to physical, emotional and psychological harm.

How Long are Restraining Orders In Effect?

In some states, emergency or temporary orders are issued in domestic violence situations when a person has been arrested. These short-term orders, which can be as brief as three days, can give the victim time to have a court hearing to request a longer protection order.

Permanent orders are usually considered final unless either party requests to have the order modified, and the judge concurs. Permanent orders typically remain in force for one year, but they can be modified, renewed or extended if the victim still feels threatened.

What if a Restraining Order has been Filed Against You?

Do not contact the person who filed the order against you, the protected person, and do not contact their friends or family. Keep in mind that electronic communication and even tagging them in Facebook posts can count as contact. Avoid places the protected person is likely to be.

If the protected person tries to contact you, do not respond. Stick to the order. And note that the protected person cannot cancel the order; only a judge has the authority to do so.

What Happens if a Person Violates an Order?

If you have a restraining order filed against you and you are caught violating it, you can face fines and jail time. The charge could be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances.