Understanding Restraining Orders in New York State


Similar to other jurisdictions across the United States, individuals in New York can seek or be subject to protective orders issued by state courts; the goal of these orders is to reduce the potential of harm and harassment perpetrated against victims. Courts in the Empire rarely refer to these judicial actions as restraining orders since they are actually designed for protection.

In New York, protective orders can be issued by family, criminal and Supreme Court divisions. They are issued against individuals for the benefit of victims. One of the most common reasons for issuing these orders is to break up the cycle of domestic violence; to this effect, they are provisioned by section 154-d of the Family Court Act. Here are some of the effects and details of protective orders:

* In the family court division, the petitioner must present evidence that a close or intimate relationship exists. Since family court cases are civil proceedings, the individual against whom the order is requested has an opportunity to respond to the allegations.

* In the criminal court division, victims must present complaints as witnesses, and defendants may be required to comply with the orders as a condition of their release.

* Protective orders issued by the Supreme Court are usually related to divorce cases, and they may not always involve domestic violence.

In essence, protective orders enjoin individuals from having contact with petitioners, victims or witnesses. The court will require individuals to refrain from specific activities such as:

* Coming near victims or petitioners.
* Contacting specific individuals.
* Coming close to relatives of the victims.
* Possessing firearms.
* Attend behavioral or substance abuse counseling.
* Attend anger management classes.

In addition to the above, courts may also order individuals to surrender custody of minors, pay child support, attend counseling, or move out of their residence.

Domestic violence cases allow for an instant issuance of protective orders that last up to four calendar days before they are reviewed. A copy of the order is forwarded to local law enforcement agencies for potential enforcement.

Violating protective orders can result in arrest, penalties and contempt charges. Providing false information for the purpose of obtaining a protective order can also result in contempt charges.

Depending on the circumstances of the case, protective orders may extend beyond state jurisdiction, meaning that law enforcement officers can arrest individuals who violate the orders, and any reports written may be reviewed by the New York court. Criminal defendants who are out on bail may be taken into custody and their conditional release may be revoked should they be determined to have violated protective orders.

Protective orders can be issued on a temporary or final basis. Modifications and terminations can be requested at any time unless the court specifically sets a term. Not all domestic violence cases need to feature protective orders; integrated courts will handle cases where families can be heard as a group, and their issues can be resolved through various means for the purpose of preventing violence.