A judge or magistrate issues a restraining order against someone who harasses or threatens another person. Conditions of restraining orders vary, depending on the behavioral offense, the judge’s discretion and jurisdictional laws. The order may direct the alleged offender to keep a specific distance away from another person, surrender any firearms or contact the victim in any way. Even though a restraining order is a civil matter, evidence of it may work its way into a person’s record and have adverse consequences.
Reasons for Restraining Orders
Often domestic in nature, but not always, restraining orders may be issued against someone for stalking, assault, abuse or making terrorist threats. In different areas, restraining orders may be called by other names such as protective orders, orders for protection (OFPs), abuse prevention orders and harassment orders. Petitions for restraining orders are reviewed and granted on a case-by-case basis, because the court must weigh variables such as alleged facts, credibility of witnesses and any prior offenses of the offending party.
Temporary vs. Permanent Restraining Orders
A restraining order may be issued in two stages – an initial temporary restraining order (TRO) or a temporary protective order (TPO) and a permanent order. The reason for a temporary status is that many restraining orders are granted ex parte by the court, which means that the alleged offender doesn’t even have to be present in court for a judge to grant a TRO.
Temporary orders may never progress to permanent orders, depending on a hearing to determine the facts and severity of potential offenses. But a “temporary” restraining order may be effective for quite some time; for example, in Minnesota, the temporary period may last up to two years.
Civil vs. Criminal Matters
Although restraining orders are civil in nature, any violations become criminal matters, which may be punishable by time in jail for the offender. By itself, the restraining order is not part of someone’s public record, but it can become part of a person’s public record if an arrest is made for violating the order. By virtue of the public nature of an arrest record, in which the paperwork for an arrest notes that a restraining order had been issued prior to the arrest, the arrest record now puts the restraining order on record.
Restraining Orders on Other Records
A person’s criminal record is not the only type of record in which evidence of a restraining order may be found. A restraining order is on record in some states because of the Domestic Violence Registry Index. So even though a copy of, or a notation for, a restraining order doesn’t show up in someone’s criminal background check, this information may still be available to employers, schools, landlords, licensing authorities and other agencies.
Adverse Consequences of Restraining Orders
The consequences of being issued a restraining order have the potential to cut a wide swath in someone’s life, including:
- Hindering or prohibiting employment in certain occupations. Having an order of protection and getting a job may be impossible in sectors such as the military, law enforcement and social service agencies.
- Hindering employment in specific jobs, such as positions as a therapist, pharmacist, nurse or physician.
- Preventing someone from adopting a child or becoming a foster parent.
- Getting terminated from certain jobs.
- Being expelled from certain schools.
- Disqualifying someone from running for public office.
Read More: How Long Does a Restraining Order Last?
Restraining Order Lawyer Consultation
Because of the serious nature of, and potential long-term consequences for, having a restraining order, those affected may want to seek legal counsel. It is possible than an attorney may be able to facilitate the expunging of a criminal record, which may also remove evidence of a restraining order.
Victoria Lee Blackstone was formerly with Freddie Mac’s mortgage acquisition department, where she funded multi-million-dollar loan pools for primary lending institutions, worked on a mortgage fraud task force and wrote the convertible ARM section of the company’s policies and procedures manual. Currently, Blackstone is a professional writer with expertise in the fields of mortgage, finance, budgeting, tax and law. She is the author of more than 2,000 published works for newspapers, magazines, online publications and individual clients.