Myths vs. Facts: Understanding Restraining Orders
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Myths vs. Facts: Understanding Restraining Orders

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Misinformation about restraining orders is both widespread and harmful, often deterring those in need from seeking crucial protection. To help clear up the confusion, we’ll debunk common myths and clarify the facts surrounding the legal framework for restraining orders. Individuals need clear, accurate information in order to understand their rights and the protections available under the law. This ensures they can make informed decisions about their safety and well-being. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of “Myths vs. Facts” when it comes to understanding Restraining Orders.

MYTH: Restraining Orders are ONLY for Physical Violence.

FACT: Restraining Orders can be issued for a variety of reasons beyond physical violence, including:

  • Threats
  • Harassment
  • Stalking
  • Psychological Abuse

They are designed to prevent ANY form of abuse that poses a threat to the safety and well-being of an individual.


MYTH: You need a lawyer to file a restraining order.

FACT: It is NOT mandatory to have a lawyer when applying for a restraining order. The process is designed to be accessible to the public, and the courts provide forms and sometimes even staff to help individuals understand how to fill them out and file them properly. However, consulting with a lawyer can be beneficial in complex cases or when the petitioner needs help gathering evidence.

MYTH: The respondent must have been previously charged with a crime for a Restraining Order to be issued.

FACT: A Restraining Order can be issued whether or NOT the respondent, – the person being accused – has been charged with a crime. The key requirement is sufficient evidence that the petitioner, – the individual making the accusation – is at a risk of violence, harassment, or stalking. The focus is on PREVENTING future harm, regardless of past criminal charges.

MYTH: Restraining Orders are easy to get and often used vindictively.

FACT: While Restraining Orders are accessible to those in need, obtaining one requires presenting sufficient evidence to a judge, who must believe there is a credible threat to the safety of the petitioner. Judges are trained to scrutinize the evidence and motives behind the application to prevent misuse of the system.

MYTH: Once a Restraining Order is issued, it can’t be challenged or removed.

FACT: Respondents have the right to contest a Restraining Order. There are legal provisions for the respondent to request a hearing to challenge the basis of the Restraining Order. Additionally, either party can request the court to modify or dismiss the Restraining Order if circumstances change.

MYTH: Restraining Orders do NOT work against someone you don’t live with.

FACT: Restraining Orders are effective regardless of the current or past living situations of the individuals involved. They can be used against neighbors, co-workers, acquaintances, or ANY individuals who pose a threat, not just those who live with or have lived with the petitioner.

MYTH: A Restraining Order will affect the respondent’s criminal record.

FACT: A Restraining Order itself does NOT appear on a criminal record as it is a civil court order. However, violating a Restraining Order is a criminal offense that can result in criminal charges, which would be reflected in the respondent’s record.

Understanding Restraining Orders is essential for anyone facing potential threats of abuse.

By dispelling myths and presenting the facts, individuals are empowered to take decisive, informed actions to protect themselves and their loved ones. In cases of potential violence, it is important to remember that knowledge is not just power – it’s protection. If you or someone you know is considering a restraining order, take these facts to heart and contact the domestic violence and sexual assault experts at GOLDLAW by “Choosing the 2’s” and calling 561-222-2222, or by contacting us here.