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Can a Restraining Order Be Issued Against Me Without My Knowledge?

In Tennessee, if a person claims that you have abused, sexually assaulted, or stalked them, they may petition the court for a restraining order. If granted, the order would effectively restrict you from engaging in certain conduct. But can a restraining order be issued against you without your knowledge? In some cases, yes, but it depends on the circumstances.

A Temporary Restraining Order

In all cases, before a permanent restraining order can be issued in your name, you must be given the opportunity to defend yourself and dispute the claims made against you. To allow you this right, a court will schedule you for a hearing. During that process, you (and the person seeking to have the restraining order issued in your name) answer questions from a judge. Based on what facts and evidence you and the other person provide, the judge will decide whether or not to approve the request for a restraining order.

However, in some situations, you might not be scheduled for a hearing before a restraining order is issued in your name. This happens when the person applying for the restraining order claims that you pose an immediate risk to their safety. The judge may determine, solely upon hearing the applicant's side of the story, that you cause the alleged victim irreparable injury or damage. Thus, they will grant a temporary restraining order without giving you a chance to fight back against the claims. In essence, it will be issued without your knowledge.

Being Served with a Restraining Order Petition

Although a temporary restraining order may be issued without your attending a hearing, that doesn't mean you will never know that you are required to abide by certain court-mandated conditions. After the temporary restraining order is granted, you will be served with notice of it. The documents you receive will state what terms you are subject to. As soon as you are served, the order takes effect.

A temporary restraining order is not permanent. It will expire within 15 days after being issued. If a permanent order is being sought, you will be scheduled for a hearing, which, as mentioned before, is your chance to challenge the accusations made against you.

What Should I Do If I'm Served with a Restraining Order?

If you receive notice that a temporary restraining order has been issued in your name, speak with a skilled Nashville attorney as soon as possible. They can help you understand what the order means and what could happen if you violate the conditions. Additionally, a lawyer can help you prepare for your hearing. It's important to show up for court ready to defend yourself, as a permanent restraining order can place severe limitations on your life.

Get started with your case by calling my firm Andrew C. Beasley, PLLC at (615) 274-4009 or filling out an online contact form.