Indeed, such abuse can make it impossible for a person to go on living their daily lives, much less take any legal action. This is where a restraining order may be necessary.
A restraining order will not fix all of your problems. But it can give you the space to obtain distance from an abusive current or former partner. The Wauwatosa restraining order attorneys at Karp & Iancu, S.C., can guide you through this process and provide you with legal advice and assistance during this difficult period.
What Are the Different Types of Restraining Orders in Wisconsin?
A restraining order is an order issued by a Wisconsin judge that prohibits a person from taking a particular action or series of actions. Wisconsin law has specific provisions for four different types of restraining orders:
- Domestic Abuse
- Child Abuse
- Individuals at Risk
The basic process for obtaining each type of restraining order is similar, yet each is designed to protect different groups of individuals. Our attorneys can help you determine which kind of restraining order is appropriate to your situation. While not exhaustive, here is a basic overview of when you would seek a specific restraining order:
- Domestic Abuse restraining orders involve adult victims who have been abused by another adult, such as a family member, household member, former spouse, a person with whom they have a common child, or someone with whom they have been in a dating relationship. A caregiver or guardian may also seek a restraining order on behalf of another adult for whom they are responsible.
- Child abuse restraining orders involve child victims. Typically the child’s parent, stepparent, or guardian will apply for the restraining order on the child’s behalf. In some cases a government agency or a guardian ad litem appointed by the court will act on the child’s behalf.
- *Individuals at risk refer to an adult who has a physical or mental condition that significantly impairs their ability to care for their needs and who is “at risk” or experiencing some form of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
- Harassment restraining orders cover anyone who has been targeted by a course of conduct including unwanted physical contact, sexual assault, stalking, or threats involving any of these actions.
The Two-Step Process
There are two basic steps when you want to obtain a restraining order on behalf of yourself or another person. The first step starts with completing a petition for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and filing it with the court. As the name suggests, a TRO is a short-term restraining order that will only last for a set amount of time, usually no more than 14 days. A TRO is designed to provide immediate relief for the petitioner. As such, a judicial officer can issue a TRO right away without even waiting to hear from the respondent–i.e., the person whom you are seeking the restraining order against.
Step two of the process involves appearing before a judge at a formal injunction hearing. The respondent must be notified of this hearing and have an opportunity to appear and be heard by the court. You can offer testimony at the hearing, subject to cross-examination by the respondent or their attorney.
Following this hearing, the judge can grant an injunction, which is essentially a long-term restraining order. An injunction can last up to four years in most cases. In cases where the court concludes there is a “substantial risk” that the respondent may kill or sexually assault the petitioner, the court can extend the injunction for up to 10 years. With respect to child abuse cases, an injunction can normally last for up to 2 years or until the child turns 18, whichever comes first. In all cases, it is also possible for the petitioner to seek a new TRO or injunction against the same respondent if they believe that the threat still exists.
What Does a Restraining Order Prohibit?
When a court grants a TRO or injunction, the respondent is prohibited from committing certain acts specified in the court’s order. This can include:
- committing acts of abuse against the petitioner;
- visiting the petitioner’s residence;
- avoiding a residence owned by the respondent until such time as the petitioner can relocate;
- contacting the petitioner without their consent, except through the petitioner’s attorney or a law enforcement officer; or
- taking any retaliatory actions against the petitioner’s pet.
When an injunction is issued, the court can also mandate the respondent surrender any firearms they own to the local sheriff or another designated law enforcement officer.
What Happens If Someone Violates a Restraining Order?
If a police officer has probable cause to believe someone has violated a TRO or injunction, they can arrest that individual. Violating a restraining order is considered a misdemeanor in Wisconsin. While not as serious as a felony, it can still lead to jail time–up to 9 months–and a $10,000 fine.
Keep in mind, that a person can be arrested for violating a restraining order even if they did not attend the hearing discussed above or otherwise contest a TRO or injunction. So long as the petitioner properly served the original TRO on the respondent, the law presumes that the respondent had “constructive knowledge” of the restraining order’s existence and is bound by its terms.