In the United States, everyone has a right to a reasonable level of freedom as long as that freedom does not infringe on the rights of another. To protect a person’s well-being and sense of security, the State of Wisconsin has an arrangement for filing restraining orders.
A restraining order is not a protection available on a whim. The injunction requires following a procedure and, if successful, has real consequences for the person the order is against.
How an individual files a restraining order
People who believe they are the object of harassment can fill out a petition and file the forms at the courthouse. If the court accepts the petition, this action first authorizes a temporary restraining order.
The court schedules an injunction hearing within 14 days. The petitioner must appear at the injunction hearing to present testimony, or the court will dismiss the petition. The respondent, who is the object of the restraining order, may also appear to contest the order. If the court approves the injunction, the restraining order may last up to four years.
Consequences for the respondent
If the respondent is not at the injunction hearing, the individual will receive the notification of the restraining order and any restrictions later. In some instances, the person may have to surrender firearms. The notification will make clear any penalties for violations of the restraining order.
Breaking a restraining order is a misdemeanor, but this does not mean the consequences are light. A person who violates the order may spend nine months in jail or pay fines up to $10,000.
Restraining orders between adults are part of the public record and may affect an individual’s standing in the community. A person who wants to fight such restrictions has options to do so.