Restraining Orders

Any family or household member who has been subjected to a continuous threat of present physical pain or physical injury by a family or household member may apply to the Superior Court for a restraining order. A restraining order differs from a protective order in that restraining orders are civil and can be issued without the accused person being arrested. Protective orders are criminal and are issued after the accused has been arrested for committing a family violence crime. However, courts may issue standing criminal restraining orders when they believe the history and character of the offender and circumstances warrant it (see below).

To obtain a restraining order the victim must file an application and affidavit with the court stating the condition from which relief is sought. The court must hold a hearing within 14 days of receipt of the application and give the alleged offender at least five days' notice before the hearing. But the court may issue an order without notice or hearing if there is an immediate and present physical danger to the applicant (i.e., ex parte order). The Judicial Branch pays the fee for serving notice.

The court includes in the order any provisions necessary to protect a victim from injury or intimidation, including requirements for temporary child custody or visitation rights. But each restraining order, except an ex parte order, must state that (1) the court issuing it had jurisdiction to do so; (2) the respondent was given notice and the opportunity to be heard; and (3) it is valid in all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, U.S. territories or possessions, and on tribal lands. (Valid foreign protection orders are registered in this state through the Superior Court and, in compliance with the federal Violence Against Women Act, enforced as if they were issued in this state (CGS 46b-15a)).

The order is effective for six months unless extended by the court upon the applicant's or its own motion. Anyone violating the order can be held in contempt of court. Additionally, entering or remaining on property in violation of the order constitutes first-degree criminal trespass. Any motion for contempt based on a restraining order violation is heard at an expedited hearing held within five court days of the date the motion is served, provided service is not less than 24-hours before the hearing (CGS § 46b-15). In any such court proceeding the court may order out-of-court testimony for parties under restraining orders, including by videoconference. (CGS 46b-15c)

Lastly, a person is guilty of criminal violation of a restraining order when he or she is the target of a restraining order; knows the terms of the order; and violates the order by contracting, failing to stay away from, restraining, or threatening or assaulting another person. Criminal violation of a restraining order is a class D felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, a $5,000 fine, or both (CGS § 53a-223b).