If you are worried about your safety, you can apply for a restraining order for your own and/or your children’s safety against the person threatening you. A restraining order means that another person can be ordered not to contact you in order to protect your life, health, freedom and peace.
A person ordered to a basic restraining order cannot meet the protected person or otherwise contact him/her, or attempt it. The protected person can also not be followed or monitored. An extended restraining order refers to also being banned from a certain area, e.g. the vicinity of the protected person’s permanent residence, holiday home, workplace or other location determined by the court. A person, who has been given a restraining order within a family must leave the joint residence and not return there. He/she may also not meet or otherwise contact the person, who is protected by the order. Following andmonitoring the protected person is also prohibited. A restraining order within a family can also be ordered as extended to include being in acertain other place, such as in the vicinity of a joint home.
A restraining order can be requested by anyone, who justifiably feels threatened or harassed by another person. Typical cases, where a restraining order can be used, are the violent behaviour of a partner; the violent behaviour, threatening or harassment of an ex-partner or living partner, as well as in situations where an adult child seeks to blackmail money from an elderly parent or assaults him/her. A restraining order can also be ordered in cases where the person to be protected with the order and the person ordered with a restraining order live at the same address. A prosecutor, police or social authority may also apply for a restraining order on behalf of the person to be protected.
How is a restraining order applied for?
A restraining order is applied for from the district court usually with a separate application (In Finnish). When you apply for a restraining order, you must state the following:
- what kind of threat or harassment have you been or are you subject to
- who do you feel threatened or harassed by
- you understanding of the continuation of harassment or threat of a crime in the future
- are there witnesses or evidence
Good documentary evidence
It is important that you record the events immediately and collect any possible evidence and contact details of witnesses for the support of you restraining order application. A reported crime that involves possible violence, harassment, threats or restriction of freedom also supports the application of a restraining order. If a police has been to the scene of the crime in relation to these situations, they are worth mentioning in the application.
In the processing of a restraining order case, how carefully you have prepared your application is relevant. You can ask your lawyer or Victim Support Finland to help you with the application.
If the need for a restraining order is immediate, you can apply for atemporary restraining order. It enters into force immediately and the case is processed in more detail by the district court within the nextfew days. A temporary restraining order can be issued by a police, prosecutor or the district court. Usually, it is requested from the police or district court. In connection with a domestic emergency situation, the police may issue a temporary restraining order when removing a violent family member from the home.
Content of a restraining order
The order does not prevent communication that takes place for justifiable reasons. Communication is allowed, despite the order, in case of e.g. a joint child suddenly falling ill. Foreseeable situations – such as meetings related to seeing a child – should be taken into consideration already in the decision concerning the restraining order.
In case of restraining orders within a family, the parties’ financial obligations are not affected, such as the payment of rent, the ownership or rental of an apartment or the distribution of household goods. Issuing an order also has no legal effects on the custody of joint children, meeting them or child maintenance. The arrangement of meeting the children must be agreed separately.
The requirements of ordering a restraining order within a family are stricter than in the case of a normal restraining order. The restraining order can only be ordered for the prevention of a crime or threat concerning life, health or freedom. It is not issued, if it is a case of a crime against peace or harassment.
Duration of a restraining order
A restraining order is valid for a period of time determined by the district court, however no longer than one year. The order can be renewed, if necessary, however no longer than for two years. Renewal requires that a proposal concerning it is presented and it needs to be processed by the district court. A restraining order within a family can, however, only be issued for up to three months and it can be renewed for up to three months. The validity is considered on a case-by-case basis.
Restraining order case at the district court
A restraining order application is processed urgently by the district court. The case is processed in the same way as a criminal case with a trial, where the statement concerning the matter is reviewed and both parties, as well as any possible witnesses, are heard. The basis for issuing a restraining order include conditions, personal threat experience and any witnesses’ statements. A justified reason can be considered as a committed act of violence, but it is not a precondition for a restraining order. A person’s harassment or threatening e.g. In the vicinity of home, the workplace or in public areas may be a sufficient reason for ordering a restraining order.
The district court may settle a restraining order case, even if the person subject to the restraining order does not appear at court. The restraining order shall become effective as soon as it has been issued – despite whether it is appealed against to the Court of Appeal. If the restraining order is later found to be unnecessary, it is requested to be cancelled from the district court. The parties concerned may not agree on the order being terminated.
What does it cost to apply for a restraining order?
From the beginning of 2019, it costs 260 euros to apply for a restraining order. The payment is to be made only is the application is refused. Income and wealth determined whether public legal aid can be provided for the payment. It is applied for at the legal aid office.
Usually both parties are responsible for their own advisors’ payments. The possibility of an attorney, which is paid partly or in full by the government, can be inquired at a legal aid office. Income and wealth are taken into account in the matter, as well as the actual situation.
Most legal security insurance policies do not cover the costs of an advisor in restraining order cases. It is worth checking your own insurance policy terms with the insurance company. The State Treasury does not cover the costs of an advisor in restraining order cases either.
Applying for a restraining order should not be waived, even if you don’t have the possibility of using the services of an advisor. In practice, restraining order cases are handled by the district court in such detail that an advisor may not be necessary.
Violation of a restraining order
All restraining orders are entered in the police’s special person register. If threatening, harassment or other such continues after the order has been issued, it should be reported to the police. If the police are called to the scene, it is important to mention the restraining order.
The violation of a restraining order can be punished with a fine or with up to one year of imprisonment. Violating a restraining order is a crime subject to official prosecution, in which case the prosecutor has the right to take the case to court.