How to Defend Against a Restraining Order in Court

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The rules regarding restraining orders vary among states, and they are sometimes referred to as protective orders and peace orders as well as restraining orders. Restraining orders are generally available to protect a victim of abuse upon proof that abuse has occurred or is likely to occur. Restraining orders limit an abuser's access to his victim by ordering him to stay away from the victim's home and other places that he frequently goes, and allow police officers to arrest him simply for being near the victim.

Appear at the hearing. It is important that you appear at the restraining order hearing, because if you fail to appear, the judge can issue the order without hearing your side of the story at all. Do whatever you possibly can to appear at the hearing and present your evidence to the judge.

Gather evidence. Gather any evidence that you can find that shows you did not abuse the petitioner. Evidence can include emails, letters, or voicemails from the petitioner, witnesses that can testify that they did not see you abuse the petitioner, and so forth. Anything that you have that brings the petitioner's story into question can help you to prove your case to the judge.

Be courteous. It is important to be polite to the judge, courthouse staff, and even the petitioner when you appear at the hearing. Any outbursts or other poor behavior that occurrs in the courthouse can color the judge's opinion of you and the events complained of by the petitioner.

Present your evidence. When you have your chance to present your evidence to the judge, do so as calmly as possible. It is important to avoid letting anger or nerves get in the way of your story. Simply explain to the judge what happened, and that it would be a hardship for you to comply with the terms of a restraining order. Be sure that you tell the judge that you have not abused the petitioner, and will not do so in the future.

Comply with the court's order. Whether you win or lose, or the court's order falls somewhere in the middle, it is important that you comply fully with the court's decision. You can be arrested and charged criminally with any violations of the restraining order.


About the Author

K. Lynn Wallace attended the University of the Arts and University of Baltimore Law school and is now an attorney in Maryland. She has a general litigation practice and has been a writer since 2009. She has served on the editorial board of the "University of Baltimore Intellectual Property Journal."