A restraining order is usually a civil law matter. But violating the terms of a restraining order issued against you can lead to your arrest and a possible jail sentence.
Because a restraining order is a judicial order, violating it is a crime. The person who requested the order against you can call the police and have you arrested. If you are found guilty of violating the order, you can be sentenced to jail for up to a year. If the violation resulted in physical injury to the protected person, the law requires a minimum sentence of 30 days in jail. However, the judge can reduce that mandatory minimum to 48 hours “in the interests of justice and for reasons stated on the record.” Such reasons include:
- No other alleged violation is pending
- The protected party is not in danger
- Future violations are unlikely
- The seriousness of the facts before the court (i.e., the severity of the violations)
- Whether the defendant has completed counseling or is making progress with it
Accidental violations can still have consequences
Depending on the terms of the restraining order, it is possible to violate it without realizing it or intending to harass or frighten the other person. You should go over the restraining order carefully to make sure that you know exactly how it limits your movement and where you are not allowed to be. Your attorney can review it with you to help ensure there is no misunderstanding.