Houston Criminal Law Blog

EXPERIENCED. AGGRESSIVE. HOUSTON CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAW FIRM: The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp

What is a Restraining Order?

A restraining order (also known as a protective order) is a legally-binding decree that exists to protect a person or property from harm. It is issued when a person has reason to fear for the safety of himself, his family or his belongings. A protective order can be issued after a crime has been committed or in anticipation of a crime that has not been committed. In either case, restraining orders are preventative rather than punitive in nature.

Who May Request a Restraining Order?

A protective order is typically issued against a particular individual at the request of another individual. A person usually requests a protective order because he feels threatened by the behaviors of another person. An order is most often requested against an individual who is related to the petitioner by blood or marriage.

Under certain circumstances, an individual may petition for a restraining order against a person with whom he or she has no prior relationship. This typically occurs when the petitioner is a public figure. In this case, a restraining order may be issued against an obsessed fan or follower who is suspected of stalking, threatening or engaging in menacing behavior. Under special circumstances, a judge may grant a restraining order on behalf of an individual who feels threatened by the actions of a coworker.

Characteristics of a Protective Order

The terms of a protective order are typically restrictive in nature. In other words, they are designed to prohibit an individual from engaging in potentially harmful behaviors. Some of the most common conditions of a protective order prohibit an individual from:

  • Making contact with the person who is protected by the order.
  • Owning or purchasing a firearm.
  • Encroaching upon a protected individual’s personal space or property.
  • Approaching any of the individual’s children or dependants.

Types of Protective Orders

Depending on the circumstances of the case and the urgency of the petitioner’s plight, a judge can grant one of several kinds of protective orders. These include:

  • Temporary restraining orders remain in force for up to one month and may be issued as a stop-gap measure while a person’s application for a permanent restraining order is awaiting approval.
  • An emergency protective order is issued when a petitioner appears to be in immediate physical danger. This type of protective order is usually issued on behalf of victims of domestic violence. Although this type of order generally remains in effect for just a few days,it is often supplanted by a permanent restraining order.
  • Permanent restraining orders remain in effect for long periods of time and may be renewed as often as necessary. Each state maintains its own formal hearing process for the issuance of permanent restraining orders.

If you would like to get more information about protective orders, please reach out to The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp and get a free initial consultation.

Call The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp for a free consultation 713-868-6100
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