Difference Between Restraining Order & Protective Order

Restraining Order vs Protective Order

Understanding the distinction between restraining orders and protective orders can be challenging, as the line between them is very fine. Both restraining and protective orders are types of court orders designed to protect an individual from harm or harassment. While many sources, including legal ones, consider these terms to be interchangeable, they have a few key differences.

Key Takeaways:

  • A Protective Order, also known as an Order of Protection, is usually focused on preventing domestic violence and is typically issued for a longer duration, often one year or more.
  • A Restraining Order is generally a temporary measure, lasting around 3 or 6 months, and is often sought as a quick, temporary relief to prevent harm or harassment.
  • The consequences of violating a Restraining Order are not as severe as those resulting from violating a Protective Order.

What is a Protective Order?

A Protective Order, sometimes called an Order of Protection, is a court order issued to protect a person from harassment, service of process, or discovery. These civil orders aim to prevent an individual from committing specific acts against another person. The nature and subject matter of the Protective Order depend on the type of person requesting it. In most cases, such orders are issued to victims of domestic violence.

Protective Orders aim to safeguard an individual’s physical and psychological health by requiring the person inflicting abuse or violence to cease making threats, stalking, or harming the other party. They also prohibit the aggressor from making contact with or visiting the victim in any form, often specifying a certain distance that must be maintained between the two parties. Generally, courts issue these orders for spouses or family members, and they are typically valid for a year, although the court can extend this period at its discretion. Violating a Protective Order can lead to criminal charges, depending on the circumstances and nature of the violation.

Additionally, Protective Orders can be issued in relation to legal processes, such as prohibiting the disclosure of sensitive information in legal proceedings or protecting parties or witnesses from unfair discovery requests.

What is a Restraining Order?

Traditionally, a Restraining Order is a court order that restricts a person from doing something or engaging in specific activities. Restraining Orders can be issued in various situations, with most cases related to preventing domestic violence. Like Protective Orders, a Restraining Order requires the person causing harm or harassment to cease their actions and avoid contact with the victim.

However, Restraining Orders can also be issued against individuals causing excessive harassment or against corporations or organizations that promote such harassment. These orders are often granted as temporary relief during emergencies or pending legal hearings. They can also be issued in relation to employment disputes or copyright infringement actions. Unlike Protective Orders, Restraining Orders are generally temporary, lasting for 3 or 6 months. Violating a Restraining Order can result in charges of contempt of court, fines, or jail time.

What is the difference between Restraining Order and Protective Order?

While both Protective Orders and Restraining Orders are issued by courts to protect individuals from harm, harassment, or specific actions, they differ in their duration and circumstances.

A Protective Order is primarily issued to protect a person from domestic violence, focusing on spouses or family members experiencing such violence. Protective Orders can also be issued during litigation processes to prevent one party from disclosing certain information or causing undue harassment and burden to another party.

In contrast, a Restraining Order is often sought as quick, temporary relief to prevent harm or harassment. Like Protective Orders, Restraining Orders can be issued against those causing domestic violence, but they can also be issued to anyone experiencing harassment by others, including organizations.

Protective Orders are generally issued for a period of one year or more, while Restraining Orders are typically temporary and last for 3 or 6 months. Additionally, the consequences of violating a Restraining Order are not as severe as those resulting from a Protective Order violation.

It is important to note that the definitions, nature, and duration of both Protective and Restraining Orders may vary between jurisdictions, so different states may interpret the terms differently.

Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard is an accomplished writer with expertise in creating engaging articles and content across various platforms. His dedication to research and crafting high-quality content has led to over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience. In his personal life, Gil enjoys connecting with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. His curiosity and eagerness to learn from others fuel his passion for communication. He believes that engaging with strangers can be both enlightening and enjoyable, making it easier to strike up conversations and expand one's horizons.


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