If you are in fear of death or injury at the hands of someone whose continued contact makes you feel uncomfortable, you can petition the court for a restraining or no-trespassing order against that person.
While restraining orders may require a defendant to stay a specific distance from and stop any and all contact with the plaintiff, they are not matters of criminal law. However, if a defendant disregards the order, the plaintiff can have her attorney file charges of contempt against him. Should the judge determine that a violation has occurred, he can either incarcerate the defendant or impose a fine against him.
The sole purpose of a no-trespassing order is to keep a defendant from trespassing on the plaintiff's personal property. However, in the case of a domestic dispute, one spouse cannot file for a no-trespassing order against the other. A neighbor, or someone not related to the family, must obtain it. If the plaintiff is being harassed while at work, the employer may file a no-trespass order against the perpetrator.
Duration of Restraining Orders
There are three types of restraining orders. An emergency restraining order is one that separates the defendant from the victim at the scene of or immediately after a domestic violence call. It is effective for about one week after the incident occurs. A temporary restraining order can then be filed and is normally effective for less than a month. It is issued to provide protection for the victim until a formal hearing can be held to determine issuance of a permanent order.
1994 Violence Against Women Act
The 1994 Violence Against Women Act demands that every order that is court-issued by a state to protect a victim be given "full faith and credit" by courts in the remaining 48 states. This means that the orders have the same effect and power as in the issuing state.