An injunction is a court order that bans an individual or group of people from a specific behavior. For example, the most common type is a restraining order, which prohibits a person who has either posed a physical or emotional threat to another from having any contact with that person. Additionally, the order may include actual measurements of how close a threatening person may come toward the person threatened. Violation of an injunction of this type may mean immediate arrest.
Often, a restraining order is temporary at first, and many last for little more than a week. To continue the order, the person requesting it must go to court and prove that the order should stand on a more permanent basis. If the requester cannot prove the need for its continuance, the injunction will last for only the short time specified by the judge. This is often the case with a restraining order issued against an abusive spouse, as the person being abused often rethinks prosecuting his or her spouse and lets the charges drop out of fear that even a restraining order will not keep the person from harm.
It is true that a restraining order does not actually physically keep a person from disobeying the judge’s order, but it does make criminal cases easier to pursue if the injunction is violated. Unfortunately, in the case of domestic abuse, the abuser may significantly harm or kill his or her partner while violating the order. Unless police protection is offered, a restraining order is not a safeguard against harm from an abuser.
Another type of injunction is a media gag order. In these cases, a judge may prohibit the media from reporting on a high profile trial until the trial’s conclusion. Gag orders are also frequently issued to protect accusers, like former members of the mafia, and to guard their whereabouts during testimony and a trial. Usually, children or rape victims do not require an order of media silence because confidentiality laws protect them.
Gag orders may also assist a jury to make a decision without prejudice from media sources. A court order may also be issued to either sequester a jury, or ban them from reading certain materials or viewing certain programs that may influence their decision. In very high profile cases, sequestering a jury may be the only way to ensure a fair verdict.
This court order may be appealed by those barred from a particular activity. Some people will ask a judge for an injunction where there is not cause to do so, which can lead to an appeal. Further, a counter-injunction may be issued against the person who initially asked for the order, to prevent further harassment.