Sex & Relationships

How to get a restraining order: Everything you need to know

Are you worried for your safety? Then a restraining order could be the answer

If you are one of the thousands of victims of harassment, stalking, or domestic violence in the UK, then a restraining order could be a way for you to protect yourself.

But what exactly is a restraining order? How long do restrainig orders last? And how do you go about getting one?

Here's everything you need to know and, most importantly, where to turn for more expert help...

What is a restraining order? (Credit: Getty)

What is a Restraining Order?

A restraining order is made by the criminal court to prevent a person from contacting or pursuing a course of conduct with another person. The order is designed to protect the person named from crime against an individual and they can be made on conviction or acquittal of any criminal offence.

Any person convicted or acquitted (found innocent or not proven) of a criminal offence can be made subject of a restraining order.

You will have to have ‘sufficient’ evidence to make a restraining order, established to a criminal standard ‘beyond reasonable doubt’, otherwise seen as strong evidence that the person seeking the order is being harassed and that they are in danger.

The person named in the restraining order has the right to be heard in a court of law, and they must be made aware of the contents of the order and what it demands of them.

According to The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS): "Restraining orders can only be made in respect of the defendant (not the victim or any witness), even if evidence in the course of a trial indicates that the behaviour of both the defendant and the victim requires addressing."

Restraining orders can help protect you from harrassment (Credit: Getty)

Why Are Restraining Orders Granted?

Restraining orders are granted to protect someone from harrassment or threats of violence.

According to The CPS, restraining orders are likely to be issued to someone ‘convicted of an offence of harassment... or an offence of putting someone in fear of violence.’

How to get a restraining order against someone?

In the UK, restraining orders can only be issued during sentencing – so to get a restraining order against someone, you have to first report them to the police and then take them to court.

They are most commonly used in cases of stalking, harasment and domestic violence.

Stalking consists of:

  • following a person
  • contacting, or attempting to contact, a person by any means
  • publishing any statement or other material relating or purporting to relate to a person, or purporting to originate from a person
  • monitoring the use by a person of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication
  • loitering in any place
  • interfering with any property in the possession of a person
  • watching or spying on a person

However it's important to note that harassment that includes one or more of the above is NOT automatically classed as stalking.

If you are a victim of domestic violence and need a more immediate solution, you might be better off to seek an injunction against your abusive partner. There are two types of injunction; a non-molestation order ‘protects you or your child from being harmed or threatened by the person who’s abused you,’ while an occupation order ‘decides who can live in the family home or enter the surrounding area.’

You can find out more about injunctions and how to file them, here.

There are no automatic time limits on restraining orders (Credit: Getty)

How long do restraining orders last?

In the UK there are no limits in place for how long restraining orders last, so the length of every restraining order is different. Some restraining orders are issued for a set period of time, while others will be issued for an indefinite period – meaning they will be in place until a judge decides otherwise.

What happens if the order is broken?

If someone breaks a restraining order, they can be fined or face up to five years in prison.

How much do restraining orders cost in the UK?

Getting a restraining order won't cost you a penny in the UK (charges are associated with them in some parts of America).


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