How to Obtain a Copy of a Restraining Order

There are a number of reasons a person may need a copy of a restraining order, regardless of which side of the order they are on. They may need to show their child's school that a former intimate partner is not allowed within a certain distance of that school. They may need to provide proof of the order to local police for protection. They may have lost the original document and find themselves in a dangerous situation. Restraining orders typically arise out of domestic violence situations, and so it is imperative to know how to obtain a duplicate copy of the order.

Understand Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a public health epidemic in the United States. Every minute an average of 20 people experience physical violence at the hands of intimate partners. That is approximately 10 million victims annually. It is systematic abusive behavior against one intimate partner by another and is typically characterized by power and control. It is not limited to physical abuse, but can also include sexual abuse and emotional or psychological abuse. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner abuse.

The latest data shows that 1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 women have been stalked. Stalking is behavior that causes the victim to believe that they may be harmed or killed. More than 19 million women and 5.1 million men in the United States alone have been stalked. A staggering 66.2 percent of female stalking victims have been stalked by an intimate partner.

Remedies for Domestic Violence

Thankfully, our legal system has provided a remedy for victims of domestic violence, particularly protection from being stalked. This tool is known as a restraining order, and you have to go to court to get one. While the rules vary from state to state and jurisdiction to jurisdiction, basically, a victim can ask a judge to order her intimate partner to stay away from her.

A restraining order is a legal order issued by the court telling another party to leave you alone. In many cases, the court can order the abuser to stay away from you, your home and your job, and to cease all communications. Often, the court will order a temporary restraining order in urgent cases where there is an immediate danger and set a date to hear oral arguments for a permanent restraining order. Temporary restraining orders can be issued without the presence of the opposing party, due to the threatening nature of the matter.

A permanent restraining order is a big deal, because some courts may take away gun rights for the duration of the permanent restraining order. It is important to note that a permanent restraining order is typically not literally "permanent" in nature – it usually lasts only for a year or two and can be renewed if necessary.

Obtain a Copy of a Restraining Order

The court that issued the restraining order and the police who are charged with enforcing the restraining order should both have copies of it. As a named person to the restraining order you should be able to go to the clerk of the court, with your identification, and request a copy of the restraining order. Be prepared to provide the clerk with the case number and the name of the other party.

The clerk of the court may charge you a small fee for providing the copy and also for certifying the copy if necessary. If you live in the same community as the other party, it is a good idea to keep a copy of the order with you at all times.

If you were represented by legal counsel during your domestic violence case, ask your lawyer for a copy of your restraining order or if she can obtain a copy on your behalf.

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About the Author

Melissa McCall is an accomplished lawyer, science journalist and legal analyst. She graduated cum laude from Syracuse University in 2003 and spent two years as a Judicial Law Clerk, followed by 2 years at a general litigation firm and a brief stint as the Director of Environmental Protection for the Virgin Islands. Since leaving the US Virgin Islands, she has worked as a legal recruiter, legal writer and legal analyst.