If someone has filed a restraining order against you, you should have been served with the paperwork. However, in some cases when someone files a temporary restraining order, the judge who issues the order can do so without informing the offending party. Rules regarding restraining orders vary from state to state, so be sure to research your state’s laws for specifics about your restraining order case.
What is a Restraining Order?
Restraining orders, also called protective orders, are court orders that protect the person who files it from being physically or sexually abused, or harassed. Depending on the type of restraining order requested, it can prevent a person from contacting, stalking, abusing, harassing (and more) the “protected person,” or the person who filed the restraining order. Types of orders may vary by state and type of harassment, but usually include domestic violence restraining orders, elderly adult abuse restraining orders, civil harassment restraining orders and workplace violence restraining orders. You should be notified if a restraining order is open against you, unless the judge issues a temporary restraining order – in which case he or she may not notify all parties involved or hold hearings to hear both sides.
If a restraining order has been served against you, you generally must comply with the following rules: release ownership of any guns to the appropriate authorities and abide by the rules set in place by the restraining order. Failure to follow the restraining order guidelines may lead to jail time, a fine or both.
How to Find if you Have an Open Restraining Order Against You
In most cases, if a restraining order has been issued against you, you will be served with the order. For some reason if you are not notified of the restraining order, you can do the following steps.
First search online for the county or state’s court website to see if they have information on whether or not there’s a restraining order open against you. If you cannot access the information online, visit or call your county office and have someone in the office help you conduct the search. The clerk of the court should maintain original copies of all records pertaining to cases filed in the county, including those associated with restraining orders.
Explain to the associate clerk who takes your call that you are seeking information about a possible pending restraining order. Provide your name and that of the person you believe initiated a restraining order case against you. If the clerk finds an order, request that a copy of the restraining order be sent to you by the clerk's office if an active case is found.
Alternatively, you can telephone the sheriff's office in the county where you believe a restraining order has been filed. Request to speak with the deputy that oversees the service of restraining orders. If there is such an order, the deputy likely will want to make arrangements to serve the restraining order on you. Service can be accomplished fairly easily if you are willing to drop by the sheriff's office and pick up the document yourself.
Read More: For What Reasons Can You Get a Restraining Order?
- Technically, a restraining order is not in effect until it is served on you by the sheriff's department. However, if you have actual knowledge that a restraining order is in force, be certain to comply with all of its requirements. Even though you are yet to be served with the restraining order, the fact that you do possess actual knowledge of its existence is enough for most judges to take action against you if you violate the terms and conditions of that order.
Mike Broemmel began writing in 1982. He is an author/lecturer with two novels on the market internationally, "The Shadow Cast" and "The Miller Moth." Broemmel served on the staff of the White House Office of Media Relations. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and political science from Benedictine College and a Juris Doctorate from Washburn University. He also attended Brunel University, London.