Although the terms "restraining order" and "protective order" are often used interchangeably, they are in fact different things in Connecticut. Protective orders are set by criminal courts in cases involving threats or violence, most often family violence cases. The defendant is prohibited from some or all types of contact with the protected party, who is usually the victim in the case. Orders are typically set at arraignment and may be modified during the case.
Civil Protection Orders
Restraining orders are set by civil courts. There are two major types of restraining orders in Connecticut. One is for people who have had some sort of familial or dating relationship, which includes (but is not limited to) spouses, exes, co-parents and relatives. The other is for victims of sexual assault, sexual abuse and stalking. A person who seeks a civil restraining order files an application in civil court. The court will likely schedule a hearing within two weeks to determine if it should be granted (the other party must be served and has a right to defend against the order). A court may also, if requested, issue ex parte orders, which take effect immediately but only last until the hearing.
Defending Restraining Orders
The respondents of restraining orders, while not criminal in nature, do suffer a loss of liberty. They must surrender and cannot possess firearms. They may also be required to stay away from or not contact the protected party and are exposed to potential felony charges for violating conditions. Additionally, protective and restraining orders are entered in a database that can be accessed by law enforcement and other government authorities. For those reasons it is important to defend against a restraining order.