Precautions to Take (Immediately) if You’ve Been Issued a Restraining Order

Posted on July 13, 2015


  • “TRO violation for inadvertent butt calls”
  • “I have a protective order against my husband to protect my children and myself. Can my children send a card to him?”
  • “Protection order—does it apply to her as well?”
  • “Can you say hello to someone with a restraining order?”
  • “Back with my wife, and she has an order of protection”
  • “My husband has a $50,000 bond for violating a restraining order twice. What can I do?”
  • “Can he come to my daughter’s game if there is a restraining order in place?”
  • “If someone has a restraining order but keeps talking”

—Search terms that recently led visitors to this blog

Violation of a restraining order is a crime: contempt of court. In some jurisdictions, this is a misdemeanor offense; in others, it can carry graver significance. Whatever your state’s laws, it can land you in jail.

With cell phones, accidentally calling someone is simple. It happens all the time. If you accidentally call someone you’ve been prohibited by an order of the court from contacting, this can be a big deal.

Email is also a problem. The plaintiff on the order may one of a number of correspondents you’re accustomed to emailing as a group. Service providers, like Google, may also automatically email regular correspondents of yours.

So may Facebook and related sites send messages automatically.

If you’ve been prohibited by court injunction from contacting someone, make sure that person and any minors covered by the order are deleted from your phone and email accounts, as well as your social media groups and any automated lists that would make you responsible for an inadvertent “contact.” Even some service that automatically sent an e-card or a fruit basket on a holiday or birthday could occasion your being dragged back into court. (If you pay for the plaintiff to get a “cigar of the month,” cancel the subscription.)

Perform a purge, and make sure the firewall has no holes.

You must also be wary of enticement, whether intentional or not. Typical advice is if the plaintiff on the order calls you, hang up immediately, log the contact, and if you have an attorney, let him or her know about it.

Any contact, no matter how harmless, can be grounds for further (possibly serious) legal consequences. Even a brief stint in jail can mean the loss of a job and/or a residence (if not a pet, a child, or a career).

Unless the order you’re under is a mutual no-contact order, the plaintiff’s actions are not restrained. S/he is not the one who will be held to blame for a violation of the order. You are. (Yes, that’s even if s/he calls and says, “I feel really terrible about all of this. Please come by and have a beer. I need to talk.”)

You can protest until you’re blue in the face that you were baited into violating the order, and chances are the prosecutor or judge is going to pronounce that you’re a big boy or girl and knew the consequences of your actions. Don’t expect an ounce of compassion. (If the plaintiff wants to renew relations with you, s/he can move the court to dismiss the order.)

Finally, for a thorough introduction to avoiding snares, see “A Temporary Restraining Order Has Been Filed Against Me. What Should I Do?” and “Restraining Order Abuse and Vexatious Litigation” on the blog Breaking the Glasses.

Copyright © 2015

*Appearing among recent search terms surveyed for this post was this one: “Sex after a restraining order.” This writer’s thought? Dicey.