You’re shell-shocked because you just found out that a loved one filed a restraining order against you. Maybe it came out of left-field, or maybe trouble has been brewing for a while. Either way, it’s important to know what to do when someone files a restraining order against you. Knowledge is key in this situation.
First, you should understand what it means when a restraining order is filed against you in Ohio. It could be a temporary ex parte protection order, which only lasts a short amount of time (like a few months), or a civil protection order (CPO) or civil stalking protection order (CSPO), which can last up to 5 years.
Regardless of the type, a restraining order is a serious matter. In a domestic violence or dating violence situation, a protection order could mean you have to:
- Refrain from abusing, harassing, and annoying the accuser
- Turn over your firearms
- Have no contact with the accuser or their children
- Refrain from entering the accuser’s home, school, business or place of employment (or those of their children)
- Leave your residence
- Give child custody to the accuser
- Pay monthly support
- Pay rent, mortgage, and/or utility payments
- See a counselor
- And more
If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, here’s what you should do:
Find an Attorney
The first thing you need to do if someone files a restraining order against you is find legal representation. Restraining orders usually involve a court hearing, and you have a right to hire an attorney to cross-examine evidence and witnesses at a restraining order hearing. Your attorney can also present evidence and witnesses in your own defense.
It’s important to seek out your own family law attorney because in this situation, you are not entitled to have an attorney appointed for you without charge. For the best possible outcome, it’s a wise decision to have someone in your corner to guide you through the complex legal process.
Follow the Rules of the Restraining Order Closely
The worst thing you can do is ignore the restraining order and disobey it. If you do that, you can be charged with a criminal violation of the protection order. To get through this unscathed, you must comply with the order. That means staying away from the person who filed it, even under challenging circumstances (like if children are involved).
If you’re found guilty of violating the restraining order in Ohio, the first conviction is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. Subsequent convictions mean a fifth degree felony punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine.
Do Your Homework
In preparation for a court hearing, take a proactive stance by gathering as much evidence in your favor as possible. If you want to avoid a lengthy civil protection order, you need as much evidence and witnesses in your corner as possible. Your lawyer can help you gather the right materials and prepare in advance for the hearing. He or she will also know how to best present the materials and witnesses to the court for a favorable outcome for you.
Ideas for evidence you can gather may include:
- An alibi for an alleged incident(s) being held against you with records that prove the alibi (GPS records, phone records, etc.)
- List of witnesses who may have information about the alleged incident(s), yourself, or your accuser
- Photos or video related to the alleged incident(s)
Keep in mind that as you do your homework, the person who filed the restraining order is likely doing theirs, too. That’s why it’s crucial to follow the rules of the restraining order exactly — you don’t want to give the accuser another piece of evidence against you. For example, if you find a way to see your children when you’re not supposed to, and the accuser finds out and can show the court proof of this action, it can be used against you.
It’s never a good feeling when you get word that someone has filed a restraining order against you. Regardless of the reasons, you have certain rights. Follow the above advice to put yourself on the best path during this challenging situation.
Columbus Ohio Divorce Lawyer
The Law Offices of Kenneth R. Kline LLC is honored to work with both traditional and non-traditional families to assist them through extraordinarily difficult times. Please contact us with any questions.