What Does a Protective Order Do? Understanding Protective Orders

A protective order, often referred to as a restraining order, is a legal injunction issued by a court that restricts one person’s actions towards another.

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What Does a Protective Order Do? | Shouse Law

It is designed to safeguard individuals from harm or harassment by requiring the restrained party to adhere to specific conditions.

Types of Protective Orders

Protective orders, commonly known as restraining orders, are legal documents issued by a court to protect individuals from harassment or harm.

Here are the main types of protective orders:

Types of Protective Orders

1.Emergency Protective Orders (EPO)

  1. Issued immediately in response to an emergency.
  2. Typically lasts for a short period, such as ten days, to provide quick protection.

2.Temporary Restraining Orders (TRO)

  1. Granted when a person needs protection until a court hearing can be scheduled.
  2. Usually valid for a limited time, like 20 to 30 days.

3.Permanent Restraining Orders (PRO)

  1. Issued after a court hearing where both parties have the opportunity to present their case.
  2. Can last for a longer duration, often one to five years, and can be renewed.

These orders can include various provisions, such as prohibiting contact, requiring the abuser to move out of a shared residence, surrendering firearms, and more.

The specific terms and duration of protective orders can vary based on jurisdiction and the individual case.

Functions of a Protective Order

A protective order serves several critical functions designed to ensure the safety and well-being of an individual who is at risk of harm. Here are the main functions of a protective order:

Functions of a Protective Order

1.Restrict Contact

It can prohibit the respondent from contacting, approaching, or communicating with the petitioner in any form.

2.Prohibit Harmful Actions

The order may forbid the respondent from committing any acts of violence, harassment, or stalking.

3.Exclude from Premises

It can prevent the respondent from entering the petitioner’s residence, workplace, or other specified areas.

4.Protect Children

If deemed necessary, the order can restrict the respondent’s access to children to ensure their safety.

5.Remove Firearms

In some cases, the order may require the respondent to surrender any firearms they possess.

What are the eligibility criteria for obtaining a protective order?

The eligibility criteria for obtaining a protective order typically include:

1.Relationship to the Aggressor

The applicant must have a close relationship with the alleged abuser, such as being family or household members.


The applicant must be an adult or, if a minor, meet the specific age requirements which can vary by state.

Parents can file on behalf of minors, and minors who legally live on their own may also apply.

3.Evidence of Abuse or Threats

The applicant must provide evidence of abuse, harassment, stalking, or credible threats of violence.


The applicant must file in the correct jurisdiction, which is typically where they or the abuser reside.

Consequently, these criteria ensure that protective orders are accessible to those who need them, while also providing a legal framework to prevent misuse.

Therefore, it’s important to check the specific requirements in your jurisdiction, as they can vary.

What should I do if the protective order is violated?

If a protective order is violated, it’s important to take the following steps:

1. Ensure Your Safety

If you’re in immediate danger, call the police or emergency services.

2.Document the Violation

Keep a record of the violation, including dates, times, and any evidence such as messages or witnesses.

3. Report the Violation

Contact the police to report the violation; they can take action against the violator, which may include arrest.

4.Legal Action

You may need to return to court. The court can enforce the order, potentially leading to penalties for the violator.

5.Consult an Attorney

An attorney can provide guidance on additional legal steps you can take to enforce the order and protect yourself.

Who can apply for a protective order?

Any individual who believes they are a victim of stalking, harassment, or assault can apply for a protective order.

Minors may need an adult to apply on their behalf.

Do I need an attorney to apply for a protective order?

You can apply for a protective order without an attorney.

Additionally, you have the option to hire an attorney to assist you with the application and any subsequent hearings, should you prefer professional guidance.

Moreover, it’s important to note that the process and requirements can vary by jurisdiction; thus, it’s advisable to check the specific procedures in your area or seek legal advice if you’re uncertain.

Furthermore, some resources, such as local family violence shelters or legal aid offices, may also offer assistance with the process.

How much does it cost to file for a protective order?

There is typically no fee for filing a protective order, except in cases of workplace harassment.

How long does a protective order last?

A TPO usually lasts until the court hearing, while an EPO can last up to two years.

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