How To: File a Restraining Order

How To: File a Restraining Order

What is a restraining order, and what does it do?

  • A criminal restraining order is a court order issued by a judge to protect someone from a “Restrained Person.” It may be issued after the defendant (the Restrained Person) is arrested, charged, or found guilty of certain crimes against the party seeking the order.

  • A civil restraining order is a court order issued by a judge that prevents the defendant from doing or publishing certain things or going to certain places.

When should I file for a restraining order?

If you have been victimized by violence, abuse, threats, stalking and/or harassment, regardless of whether or not you are or have been in a relationship with the perpetrator. However, there are different types of restraining orders to consider depending on your situation.

For example, victims of domestic violence in a romantic relationship would file for a domestic restraining order, while victims of other types of harassment (including online harassment) would file a civil harassment restraining order.

Where do I file for a restraining order?

The most common options are family court or state court. When deciding where to file, consider the advice from Without My Consent.

How do I file for a restraining order?

For a civil restraining order: You (or your attorney) file the request. You, or your attorney, can draft the terms of the proposed order you wish to get from the court, and specify that the order applies to online and offline behavior in that order.

For a criminal restraining order: You may want to contact your county’s District Attorney’s Office and speak with the victim advocate. The precise terms and rules surrounding criminal restraining orders may vary by state, but are probably readily available on your state court’s website at the self-help section.

Where else can I get information?

Visit Without My Consent or your state court's website.