Restraining Order Laws in Idaho

Restraining Order
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In the Idaho legal system, a restraining order is termed a civil protection order. This is a court order that prohibits a specific person from harassing, abusing, stalking or threatening another person. The two parties are termed the protected person and the restrained person, aka the abuser. Idaho imposes criminal penalties against abusers who fail to follow the dictates of a civil protection order.

What Is a Civil Protection Order?

A civil protection order is a legal document issued by an Idaho court that limits the contact an abuser can have with the protected person or persons named in the order. By issuing a civil protection order, a civil court in Idaho orders the person who is abusing or harassing another person to stop doing so.

The intention of the civil protection order in Idaho is to come to the aid of persons being harassed or abused. Persons who are victims of domestic violence or malicious harassment can apply for a civil protection order, and the order will be issued without fee or cost. These orders can be issued on an emergency basis for a limited time without a noticed court hearing.

Relationship for Domestic Violence Orders

Not every type of relationship qualifies a person to apply for a civil protection order for domestic violence. Rather, the person seeking protection must be in, or have been in, a particular type of relationship with the person to be restrained.

There are several possible qualifying relationships that allow an Idaho resident to obtain a domestic violence protection order. The abuser must have been in the past or currently:

  • Married to the person to be protected.
  • Living with the person to be protected.
  • Dating the person to be protected.
  • Having a sexual relationship with the person to be protected.
  • Related to the person to be protected by blood, adoption or marriage.
  • The parent of a child of the person to be protected.
  • The child or parent of the person to be protected.

Any of these relationships are sufficient in Idaho to qualify a person for a civil order of protection for domestic violence.

What Qualifies as Domestic Violence?

Once it is shown that the person to be protected and the person to be restrained are in, or have been in, one of these qualifying relationships, a civil protection order may be available in the state of Idaho. The victim must also advise the court of abusive behavior that qualifies under Idaho law as domestic violence. Under Idaho statutes, it is sufficient if the person seeking the protection order alleges any of the following behaviors by the abuser:

  • Actual physical injury.
  • Sexual abuse.
  • Forced imprisonment.
  • Threat of physical injury.
  • Threat of sexual assault.
  • Threat of forced imprisonment.

Protection From Malicious Harassment

Unlike victims of domestic violence, victims of malicious harassment may seek a civil protection order in Idaho even if they are not in a special relationship with the abuser. That is, the person harassing them need not be a spouse or someone they are dating or even someone that they know. In order to get a protection order for malicious harassment, the victim need only allege the harassment.

There are three general categories of behavior that Idaho courts will restrain with protection orders: stalking, telephone threats and threats based on race, color, religion, ancestry or national origin.

What Is Stalking?

For the purpose of an Idaho protection order, stalking can take one of several forms. It is considered stalking if a person repeatedly makes contact with the person seeking the order, or a family member or household member of that person. The contacts must have taken place within the prior 90 days.

These contacts must alarm, harass, scare or annoy the person receiving them and also cause them emotional upset. This is satisfied if the person receiving the contact is emotionally distressed by the contact or fears that the stalker will kill or injure them or a family or household member of that person.

What Are Telephone Threats?

A person in Idaho may get a malicious harassment civil restraining order if they or a family member are the victim of telephone threats. At least one threatening phone call must have been made within the last 90 days. In that call, the abuser must have threatened, terrified or intimidated the person receiving the call, or tried to threaten, terrify or intimidate them. This would happen if the abuser talked about causing injury or physical harm to the person on the phone or to a family member.

What Other Threats Suffice?

Other threats, in addition to telephone threats, can be the basis for a civil protection order in Idaho. Any threat made against a person on the basis of their race, color, religion, ancestry or national origin is sufficient. The abuser may try to intimidate, threaten or harass the person, or may actually cause them physical injury.

Note that an adult may seek a civil restraining order for themselves or on behalf of a household member. A parent or guardian of a minor child may file a civil restraining order on behalf of their minor child. All applications based on malicious harassment must contain a recitation of qualifying behaviors that occurred within the past three months.

Applying for a Protection Order

To apply for a civil order of protection in Idaho, a person must obtain three Idaho court forms and fill them out:

  1. Sworn Petition for a Protection Order.
  2. Law Enforcement Service Information Sheet.
  3. Family Law Case Information Sheet.

Each of these forms can be downloaded from the Idaho Court Assistance website. Essentially, the forms are used to set out the situation, including the domestic relationship between the person applying and the person to be restrained, and/or the relevant behavior leading to the demand for protection.

Ex-Parte Court Procedure

In Idaho, the person seeking the restraining order must take all three completed forms to the courthouse in the area where they presently live or the courthouse in the city where the person to be restrained currently resides. No fee is required for filing these papers in Idaho courts or scheduling an ex-parte court hearing.

The hearing is termed ex-parte because only one side – the person filing for the protection order – will be heard by the judge. The abuser is not even notified of the ex-parte hearing. The person seeking the protective order describes the situation and the behavior in question to the judge who then determines whether the matter qualifies for a civil protection order for domestic violence or for malicious harassment.

A temporary ex parte order may be issued on the same day the petition is filed if the judge finds that serious or permanent injury might otherwise result. The temporary protection order is valid for 14 days.

14-Day Hearing

The judge also orders a second hearing at which time the temporary protection order might be extended. For this second hearing, called the 14-day hearing, the court gives notice to the other party who has the chance to come to court and give their side of the story. If the abuser lives in Idaho, the court will automatically give this notice to the local law enforcement agency who will serve the notice for the court. When the abuser resides out of state, the court clerk’s office works with the applicant and law enforcement to arrange service of the papers on the person.

The person seeking a long-term protection order (permanent protection order) has the right to be represented by an attorney at the 14-day hearing. Those who qualify can find inexpensive or free legal assistance at Idaho Legal Aid Services. Alternatively, the Idaho State Bar will provide references. But it is also permissible for an individual to represent themselves at the hearing.

It is important to prepare well for the hearing, dress respectfully and arrive on time. Arrange to present to the court all evidence of what happened, including any police reports, medical reports, recordings, text messages and witness testimony. If the court finds that there is a need for continuing protection, they will issue a long-term/permanent protection order. This order lasts for up to 12 months and may be extended by court order.

Protection With a Protection Order

While a temporary or a long-term civil protection order is a step toward preventing abusive behavior, that protection is not automatic. Any time an individual gets one of these types of orders for themselves or their family members, they still need to take appropriate steps to have it enforced by law enforcement.

The first step is to make copies of the order and make sure that every family member to be protected has a copy. If the order names certain locations, like a minor child's nursery or school, or the applicant's workplace, staff at those places should be given copies of the order and made to understand the danger. If the abuser appears at any of those locations, the staff should notify local law enforcement. Similarly, if the person protected or any family member sees that the abuser is violating the order, they should contact the police and request that they come and enforce it.

Enforcing the Protection Order

A temporary protection order can, of course, order the abuser to stop committing acts of violence or harassment, but that is not all. In a temporary order, the court may also:

  • Remove the abuser from a home they share with the protected person and/or order them to stay away from that home.
  • Order the abuser to follow a custody agreement and to not remove the couple's minor children from Idaho.
  • Order the abuser to not contact, bother, interfere with or threaten minor children.
  • Order the abuser to stay away from the school the minor children attend and/or the worksite of any protected adults.
  • Order other relief that the judge believes is necessary for protection.

A final protection order can include any of these restraints. It can also order the abuser to get counseling or treatment and to pay for the other party's costs and attorney fees for obtaining the order.

If the person violates the terms of the order, they may be arrested and charged with a crime. A law enforcement officer can arrest the person without a warrant and take them into custody if they have probable cause to believe that the person has violated an order or protection. Under Idaho law, a violation of an order of protection is a misdemeanor. Each violation is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.