Domestic violence is a real and troubling issue in today's society. Because of this, temporary restraining orders can be granted to those who feel they need protection from their abusers. However, some people have used temporary restraining orders to retaliate against their spouses in divorce cases or as a tactic to win custody of their children. In fact, according to research, 1.5 million trivial or false temporary restraining orders are issued annually in the United States. That's 70% of restraining orders.
In the majority of cases, depending on state laws, temporary restraining orders are granted solely on the word of the people requesting them. This puts the defendants at risk of felony assault charges, at least until they are able to defend against the allegations at the court hearing for a permanent restraining order. Here's what you need to know if you have been notified that a temporary restraining order has been filed against you.
Make sure you understand the restraining order
A restraining order requires that you, the alleged abuser, obey the orders of the court. The restraining order will very specifically spell out what you cannot do and may also say what you can do. It will say that you cannot have any contact with the accuser. It may also say that you cannot contact their family and friends.
If you share a home with the accuser, your restraining order will clearly inform you that you cannot go home, even if you own the home or your name is on the lease. If this is the case, do not go home. The restraining order should tell you that you can have the police, sheriff, or constable escort you to your home so you can remove personal items. If the restraining order does not specifically say this, contact a criminal defense attorney from a place like The Law Offices of Ricca PC for guidance.
Do not communicate with the accuser
Sometimes, accusers who are granted temporary restraining orders will try to entrap their alleged abusers, especially if the plaintiffs feel they do not have a strong enough case for a permanent restraining order or they are concerned about being charged with a false allegation of abuse if you are able to prove so at the court hearing. If your accuser communicates with you in any way, such as a text, a phone call, or an email, do not in any way respond. Instead, forward the communication to your criminal defense attorney. Take screenshots, if necessary, just be sure the date and time stamp is shown in the screenshots. Do not answer phone calls. Let them go to voicemail instead.
If you see your accuser while you are out and about, leave the area immediately. If your accuser approaches you anywhere, start recording a video, call the police, and contact your attorney. If there are any witnesses to the event, ask them to provide you with statements. By documenting incidences when your accuser contacts you, you will be able to prove in court that your accuser clearly was not afraid of you and, therefore would be considered a vexatious litigant.
If your accuser contacts you or approaches you, file a reciprocal restraining order against them. In order to do this, you will need to provide the court with documentation to verify that there is indeed a cause of concern and you are not just petitioning the court for a reciprocal restraining order out of spite. Being awarded with a reciprocal restraining order may help your case at the hearing for the permanent restraining order against you. Discuss these and other issues regarding the temporary restraining order with a criminal defense attorney.