What Are the Consequences for Violating a Restraining Order in Tennessee?

gavel with restraining order papers

When a person experiences repeated harassment or assault they may be entitled to a restraining order against the perpetrator. If someone is served with a restraining order they must abide by the terms listed. If you are facing charges related to violating a restraining order in Tennessee contact a Memphis criminal defense attorney.

What is the Purpose of a Restraining Order?

Restraining orders are used as a way to protect a victim of physical abuse or harassment. When someone commits continuous violence against another person, sends threatening messages, stalks them, etc. the victim may request a protective order from a judge.

The restraining order, if granted, will offer the victim several protections. The details of the terms will vary depending on the individual circumstances of the situation, however, there are some general subjects included in most protection orders. The following are common conditions that a person may have to adhere to if they are served with a restraining order.

  • The defendant may have to cease communication with the victim, including speaking in person, texting them, calling them, or reaching out in any way.
  • The defendant may have to maintain a distance of 50 or more yards between themselves and the victim at all times.
  • If the victim and defendant live together, the defendant may be forced to move out either permanently or temporarily and cede possession of the dwelling to the victim.
  • If the victim and defendant share children together the victim may be awarded temporary custody of the children for the duration of the restraining order.
  • The defendant may have to offer financial support to the victim.
  • The defendant may be required to attend therapy or counseling sessions.

What Types of Protective Orders Are Recognized in TN?

Two types of restraining orders are generally issued by Tennessee courts. A TPO (temporary protection order) is a commonly issued restraining order. It is a short-term order and typically lasts for 15 days or until a hearing can be scheduled to determine the next steps.

An EPO (extended protection order) can also be granted. These are issued either by request of the victim or at the hearing after a TPO has expired. EPOs are longer-term solutions for victims and can last up to a year. They can be renewed by request if a judge deems it appropriate. EPOs typically offer more protection and stricter terms.

What Are the Penalties for Violating a Restraining Order in TN?

Because violating a restraining order is a crime and considered contempt, consequences can be severe. Generally, a violation is charged as a class A misdemeanor which can be punished by up to 11 months and 29 days in jail and fines up to $2,500.

If aggravating factors are involved the penalties can be even more harsh. For example, if the violation included a physical assault you could be charged with a class C felony. For legal representation speak with a skilled criminal defense lawyer today.