When a person feels that they have been unreasonably harassed, or that their wellbeing is in danger, they can file for a restraining order. If a restraining order is approved by the court, it will limit where the named individual can go and when they can go there. Some restraining orders will also bar visitation with certain individuals, remove driving privileges, and revoke the individual’s right to bear arms.
In many states, restraining orders are largely limited to cases in which a family member or acquaintance harms or harasses the alleged victim. In Wisconsin, this restriction is not present, and nearly anyone can file for a restraining order against nearly anyone else. The reasons for filing are also relatively lenient when compared to many other states.
Harassment that can warrant a restraining order in Wisconsin includes:
- Physical or emotional abuse
- Sexual assault
- Stalking, spying, or loitering
- Threats of abuse or harm
In addition to these definitions, any repeated conduct that irritates or intimidates another person is considered harassment. A person could claim they were being harassed by someone who chewed their gum too loudly and too close to them, for example.
Two Faces of Restraining Orders
A restraining order clearly has valid purpose and benefits in certain cases. It is agreeable to want to separate a person from another individual that genuinely wants to do them harm. But on the contrary, restraining orders can be and actually are exploited to become a form of harassment themselves.
Since a standard restraining order for harassment lasts for 4 years, a person who is restrained based on exaggerations, misunderstandings, or plain lies can have their life turned upside-down without good reason. People who understand both how damaging a restraining order can be and how easily they are obtained may intentional fabricate stories to have a person they dislike restrained. This illegitimate behavior is a notorious practice for jilted ex-spouses in divorce cases who want to gain child custody rights, as they know the court will not want to allow a potential abuser to live with their children.
If you have learned that a restraining order has been filed against you, taking legal action to defend your good name and your future is highly recommended. By contacting the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella, you can speak to an experienced Milwaukee criminal defense attorney about your rights as someone accused of harassment and facing possible legal restraint. Call 414.882.8382 to begin today.