What To Do If a Restraining Order is Filed Against You

If you have been served with notice that a restraining order or abuse prevention order has been filed against you, often the court has issued a temporary order on an emergency basis, and the notice you received is for a hearing to extend the restraining order for a full year. Although the issuance of a restraining order is civil in nature, violation of a restraining order is a criminal offense that can result in jail time. An experienced restraining order attorney can stop this momentum by presenting your case in court with the benefit of every advantage available to you under the law.

As the restraining order extension hearing is usually scheduled for very shortly after the issuance of the temporary order, it is critical to contact an attorney immediately to secure representation and allow your attorney time to prepare your case.

You should not try to defend yourself at a restraining order hearing without an attorney knowledgeable about restraining order law. In many cases, the plaintiff’s reasons for filing for a restraining order do not meet the required statutory grounds. Plaintiffs often file restraining orders under pressure from family and friends, because they’ve heard about restraining orders on TV or in the news, or to gain an advantage in divorce proceedings. Having an experienced restraining order attorney cross-examine the plaintiff to elicit the shortcomings in his or her case can be the difference between the judge allowing the temporary restraining order to expire, or issuing a permanent order for a full year. And if the plaintiff has filed for the restraining order for improper reasons, often he or she will not hesitate to falsely accuse you of violating the restraining order, subjecting you to the possibility of imprisonment.

It is also important to be represented by an attorney so that you do not need to speak to the judge or the plaintiff yourself. This avoids the risk that you could unknowingly say something that will make the judge more likely to issue the restraining order, and that your participation in the proceedings may cause the plaintiff to become upset and seem more sympathetic. Your attorney will be able to speak on your behalf, relay your side of the story to the judge, and manage the plaintiff’s portrayal of what happened.

As a family law and criminal defense attorney and former criminal prosecutor, I have extensive experience conducting restraining order hearings. The fact that someone you know has filed for a restraining order against you does not mean that the judge will extend the temporary order after you appear in court to defend against the plaintiff’s accusations. The consequences of a permanent restraining order are severe, as it will appear on your criminal record, can be used as evidence against you in probate court matters such as child custody determinations, and the violation of a restraining order can result in imprisonment. Do not miss the opportunity to prevent the legal repercussions from escalating. Contact an experienced restraining order attorney who will protect your rights.

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