Getting a permanent restraining order: A temporary restraining order (TRO) is TEMPORARY. When you process your request for a TRO, you will receive a hearing date. The person to be restrained MUST be given the opportunity to come to court and respond to the restraining order; consequently, a hearing date is set and the restrained person is notified of the date and time of that hearing. At that hearing, it is your responsibility to prove your case. NOTE: This is a civil case, not criminal. As such you will be called the “petitioner” and the abuser will be called the “respondent” even if the abuser chooses not to respond or appear in court. Also, because this is a civil action, your burden to prove your case is only by a “preponderance of the evidence” which generally means most of the evidence supports your position. You DO NOT have to prove your case beyond a reasonable doubt.
THE PERSON SEEKING THE RESTRAINING ORDER MUST APPEAR AT THIS HEARING. If you fail to appear, your restraining order will be dismissed even if the restrained person also fails to appear.
The following are examples of evidence that may be beneficial to proving your case:
- Your own testimony-copies of police reports-copies of medical records or other evidence (such as photographs) of your injuries
- Voice mail messages, e-mail messages, letters, and the like sent to you by the restrained person (you must have the actual messages and, in the case of audio messages, you should also bring the means of playing the messages for the court)
- Testimony of eye-witnesses (do not assume that declarations or letters from eye-witnesses will be sufficient….have your witnesses come to court with you and be prepared to testify)
NOTE: The final injunctive orders are commonly referred to as “permanent.” However, in most cases, the period of time during which the restraining order will be in effect following the formal hearing is a maximum of three years.