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What are the Different Penalties for Violating a Restraining Order?

Jessica Ellis
Updated May 16, 2024
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A restraining order is a legal injunction that prohibits one party from disturbing another, generally by forbidding all contact. While often a restraining order is meant to protect one party from an abusive or threatening person, it can cause complications when dealing with issues such as custody or divorce. Violating a restraining order can result in many different consequences, depending on the region and the type of offense, but can include fines, jail time, or increased restrictions.

Sometimes restraining orders are filed at the request of one party, but this is not always the case. In many cases, an instance of domestic violence results in an automatic restraining order on all parties. This order is generally seen as a cooling down period, and may last several days. Restraining orders are also automatic in some regions during or following a divorce process. In many cases, a person will choose to file a restraining order if they feel threatened, harassed, or endangered by another person.

If a restraining order is related to a divorce or separation where custody is shared, it is important to be clear about limitations. If a divorcing couple is sharing custody of children, a restraining order could technically forbid one spouse from walking the children to the door of the other spouse's home. If a child gets sick at one spouse's house, it could be a violation to contact the other spouse to let them know. To avoid violating a restraining order in these circumstances, it is important to have clear limits and exceptions for child protection and safety. A judge may choose to throw out this type of violation if it occurs, but could also decide to limit the violator's custody or take other punitive action.

The possible penalties for violating a restraining order may vary based on the circumstances of the violation. The offense may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on how the person violated the order, if there were mitigating circumstances, or if any harm or crime was committed while in violation. Penalties may include fines, jail time, or enforced community service, therapy, or anger management classes. If the order was issued as the result of a domestic violence incident, penalties may be harsher.

Violating a restraining order more than once can lead to far more serious penalties. In some regions, a mandatory jail sentence is issued for anyone who violates a protective order more than once. Fines may be significantly higher, and jail time can change from months to years with multiple violations.

MyLawQuestions is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis , Writer
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for MyLawQuestions. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.

Discussion Comments

By anon965083 — On Aug 09, 2014

Oddly enough if the petitioner was in a casket, you would be innocent until proven guilty. How an able bodied person with no bruises can extinguish your rights is unbelievable.

By anon344770 — On Aug 12, 2013

I feel your pain, brother. It's so unfair!

By anon282370 — On Jul 28, 2012

Wow no due process. That's American. Prejudiced judges are trying to save the women and crush the men because certainly, she could not have injured him.

I can't get into my house. I had to leave with just what I could carry. She runs 5,000 gallons of water into the street that I will have to pay for.

Thanks forefathers for seeing that a woman could not possibly injure her spouse or make false reports. No due process. Lawyers stink, but now judges do too. Crap is crap.

Jessica Ellis

Jessica Ellis


With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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