Topic:
COURT PROCEDURE; DOMESTIC VIOLENCE; RESTRAINING ORDERS; STATISTICAL INFORMATION; CIVIL PROCEDURE;
Location:
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE; JUDICIAL PROCEDURE;

OLR Research Report


December 8, 2005

 

2005-R-0861

RESTRAINING ORDERS

By: Sandra Norman-Eady, Chief Attorney

You asked for information on restraining orders in Connecticut, including whether there has been a recent increase in the number of such orders and whether Connecticut courts are doing anything to stop frivolous requests for them.

RESTRAINING ORDERS

Restraining orders are court-issued civil orders typically issued to protect victims of family violence crimes from threatened or further harm. A family or household member who has been subjected to a continuous threat of present physical pain or physical injury by another family or household member or person in a dating relationship can apply to the Superior Court for a restraining order.

The court can make appropriate orders to protect the applicant and dependant children or others, including temporary child custody or visitation rights. It can enjoin the person from imposing any restraint on the person or liberty of the applicant; threatening, harassing, assaulting, molesting, sexually assaulting, or attacking the applicant; entering the family dwelling or the applicant's dwelling. The orders generally follow notice and an opportunity for a hearing; however, a court can issue an ex parte order (i.e., temporary order issued without a hearing) if the applicant alleges immediate and present physical danger.

Orders are effective for up to six months, except ex parte orders are effective for only 14 days. A court may extend an order based on the facts. The law contains procedural provisions including distributing copies of an order to certain law enforcement agencies.

A person who violates a restraining order can be held in contempt of court and subject to any sanctions the court deems appropriate. People who enter or remain in a building or any other premises in violation of an order are guilty of 1st degree trespass and subject to up to a year in prison, a $2,000 fine, or both (CGS 46b-15).

RESTRAINING ORDER STATISTICS AND FRIVOLOUS ORDERS

The Judicial Department just recently began keeping statistics on the number of restraining orders issued by year. Table 1 shows the number of ex parte and permanent orders (i.e., those issued after a hearing) by year since 2003. These statistics show that the total number of orders increased over 17% and ex parte increased over 25% from 2003 to 2004. Although the statistics are not complete for 2005, both numbers appear to be slightly lower than those in 2004. The number of permanent orders has been less fluid.

According to the Judicial Department's legislative liaison Stephen Ment, nothing is being done to stop frivolous requests for restraining orders. Courts rely on the application for an order and the testimony of the parties involved when determining whether to issue it. If a court believes a request is frivolous or not otherwise supported by the evidence, it can refuse to issue the order.

TABLE 1: NUMBER OF RESTRAINING ORDERS

 

2003

2004

2005

(through 12/4/05)

Ex Parte Restraining

Orders

4,535

6,248

5,657

Permanent Restraining Orders

3,094

3,142

2,865

Total 

7,629

9,390

8,522

Source: Judicial Department

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