Types of Injunctions: Everything You Need to Know

Types of Injunctions: Everything You Need to Know

Have you ever heard the terms “restraining order” or “protective order”? These phrases are often used interchangeably with “injunction,” but there can be slight differences depending on your location.  This blog post will provide a clear explanation of injunctions, the different types you might encounter, and what to do if you’ve been served with one.

In essence, an injunction is a court order issued to direct a person (the respondent) to either do something specific or refrain from doing something specific.  In criminal defense situations, injunctions are frequently used to protect a victim from potential future harm caused by the respondent.

What Injunctions Do

Injunctions come in two main flavors: prohibitory and mandatory.  Let’s break down the difference:

  • Prohibitory Injunctions: These are the most common type and essentially tell the respondent what they cannot do.  This could include anything from contacting a specific person (the petitioner) to coming near their home, workplace, or even a certain distance from their children’s school.
    • Example: A domestic violence injunction might prohibit the abuser from contacting the victim by phone, text message, email, or social media. It could also bar them from being within 500 feet of the victim’s residence or workplace.
  • Mandatory Injunctions:  Less frequent than prohibitory injunctions, mandatory injunctions compel the respondent to take a specific action.  This might be something like attending anger management classes, completing a substance abuse treatment program, or surrendering any firearms they own.
    • Example: An injunction following a cyberbullying case might require the respondent to undergo social media etiquette training and to publicly apologize to the victim.

Types of Injunctions

Injunctions can be highly specific, tailored to address a variety of situations. Here’s a deeper dive into some of the most common types you might encounter, along with real-world examples:

Domestic Violence Injunctions:  

These are critical legal tools designed to protect victims of domestic violence from their abusers.  Here’s a breakdown of what they might entail:

  • Restrictions on Contact:  This can encompass all forms of communication, including phone calls, text messages, emails, social media interactions, and even written letters.
  • Exclusion from Residence:  The abuser may be barred from entering the victim’s residence or even a designated safety zone around it.
  • Temporary Child Custody:  In situations where the victim’s safety is paramount, the court might award temporary child custody to the victim while the legal proceedings unfold.
    • Hypothetical Example:  A woman files for a domestic violence injunction against her husband. The injunction prohibits him from contacting her by phone, text, or social media. It also bars him from coming within 100 yards of their home and their children’s school. Additionally, temporary custody of their children is awarded to the petitioner until the court determines a more permanent arrangement.

Stalking Injunctions:

These injunctions exist to prevent someone from repeatedly following or harassing another person.  Here are some actions that could trigger a stalking injunction:

  • Unwanted Contact:  This can include persistent phone calls, showing up uninvited at someone’s home or workplace, or sending a barrage of unwanted emails or messages.
  • Threats:  If someone uses threatening language or gestures towards another person, it could be grounds for a stalking injunction.
  • Following:  Repeatedly following someone on their daily routes, waiting outside their home, or otherwise monitoring their movements can be considered stalking behavior.
    • Hypothetical Example:  A man receives a stalking injunction after repeatedly showing up at his ex-girlfriend’s workplace, sending her unwanted flowers and gifts, and leaving threatening messages on her voicemail. The injunction prohibits the man from contacting Lisa directly or indirectly and from being within 500 feet of her residence or workplace.

Cyberbullying Injunctions:  

With the rise of social media, these injunctions aim to stop online harassment and threats.  Here are some actions that might lead to a cyberbullying injunction:

  • Harassment:  This could involve repeatedly posting negative comments about someone online, spreading rumors, or using social media to threaten or intimidate them.
  • Defamation:  Posting false or misleading information about someone online can be considered defamation and could lead to a cyberbullying injunction.
  • Doxing:  The act of revealing someone’s private information online, such as their home address or phone number, can be a form of cyberbullying and may be restricted by an injunction.
    • Hypothetical Example:  After enduring months of online harassment from a group of classmates, a student secures a cyberbullying injunction. The injunction prohibits the students from mentioning the victim on any social media platform and requires them to remove any existing defamatory posts.

What to Do if Served with an Injunction 

Being served with an injunction, often referred to as a restraining order or protective order, can be a frightening and confusing experience.  Here’s a breakdown of crucial steps to take if you find yourself in this situation:

Take it Seriously:  

An injunction is a court order with legal teeth.  Violating its terms can result in arrest and even jail time.  Do not ignore the injunction, even if you disagree with its contents.  Your primary focus should be on following the order to the letter.

Read the Injunction Carefully:  

Don’t skim through it.  Take time to thoroughly understand the specific terms of the injunction.  Here’s what to pay close attention to:

  • Restricted Actions: This outlines the behaviors you are prohibited from doing. This could include contacting the petitioner (the person who filed for the injunction) by any means (phone, text, email, social media), going near their home, workplace, or children’s school, or even owning firearms.
  • Required Actions: In some cases, the injunction might mandate specific actions you must take. This could involve attending anger management classes, undergoing substance abuse treatment, or surrendering any firearms you own.
  • Duration of the Injunction: This details how long the order will remain in effect. It could be temporary (until a court hearing) or permanent.
  • Geographical Restrictions: The injunction might specify a certain distance you must maintain from the petitioner’s residence, workplace, or other designated locations.

Contact an Attorney Immediately:  

This is crucial.  An experienced criminal defense attorney can advise you on your rights and potential legal options.  They can help you with the following:

  • Understanding the Injunction: Your attorney can explain the legalities of the injunction in clear terms and answer any questions you may have.
  • Exploring Defenses: Depending on the circumstances, there might be grounds to challenge the injunction. Your attorney can explore potential defenses and advise you on the best course of action.
  • Preparing for Court: If a court hearing is scheduled to determine whether the injunction will become permanent, your attorney can help you prepare your case and represent you in court.
  • Do Not Violate the Injunction:  This is the most important step.  Even if you believe the injunction is unfair or in error, any violation can have serious legal repercussions.  If you feel the injunction needs modification, your attorney can help you file a motion with the court to request changes.  In the meantime, strictly adhere to the order to avoid any legal trouble.

Additional Tips:

  • Maintain a Paper Trail: If you need to document any communication with the petitioner, do so through your attorney. This will create a legal record and protect you from accusations of violating the injunction.
  • Avoid Contact: It’s best to completely avoid any contact with the petitioner, even through mutual friends or social media. This eliminates any risk of accidental violation.
  • Stay Calm and Composed: Being served with an injunction can be emotionally charged. However, it’s important to remain calm and avoid any actions that could be construed as threatening or harassing.

Remember, this information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  If you have been served with an injunction, consult with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your specific situation and legal options.

Speak with a Trusted Criminal Defense Attorney at Rossen Law Firm

In conclusion, injunctions are court orders with significant consequences.  This blog post has provided a breakdown of the different types of injunctions, what to do if you are served with one, and where to find additional resources.

The most important message? Injunctions are serious, and you should take them seriously.  If you’ve been served with an injunction, here’s what to do:

  • Read the injunction carefully.
  • Contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.
  • Strictly adhere to the terms of the injunction.

At Rossen Law Firm, our experienced criminal defense attorneys understand the complexities of injunctions and their impact on your life. We can advise you on your rights and potential legal options, helping you navigate this challenging situation.

Remember, following the injunction is crucial to avoid any legal trouble. Contact Rossen Law Firm today for a consultation. We’re here to help.

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