A restraining order is one way to stop harassment, threats, and unwanted messages. A restraining order can also be used to prevent violence and new crimes.
What does a restraining order mean?
Constant harassment can be involved in domestic violence and divorce situations, for example. Often it includes unwanted visits and sending messages by telephone or email.
A restraining order means that in order to protect your life, health, freedom or peace, an order not to contact you may be issued to someone else.
A restraining order can also be ordered for someone living in the same address as the victim. This kind of restraining order inside the family means that the perpetrator must leave the home. Other contacts are also forbidden.
The scope of the restraining order varies according to the situation. A restraining order can also be applied to a grown child who blackmails money from an elderly parent. It can also be used to protect a witness in a trial.
Who can apply for a restraining order?
Anyone who feels threatened or harassed by someone and can show justified cause can apply for a restraining order. If the person being threatened is unable or too afraid to apply for a restraining order personally, the public prosecutor, the police or the social services can do it for him or her.
How to apply for a restraining order?
- A restraining order is applied for at the District Court. In the application, mention
- what kind of threat or harassment it is
- who threatens or harasses you
- what you think about the continuation of harassment and the possibility of new crimes in the future
- whether there are witnesses or evidence.
What is evidence in a restraining order case?
It is recommended to be precise when applying for a restraining order. Documentary evidence in a restraining order case can be
- email and text messages
- medical certificates or copies of medical records
- records from social services or shelters.
Write down all incidents related to the matter as well as times and amounts of the harassment. Keep the messages and other material.
The police can also order a temporary restraining order
The police can also order a temporary restraining order that will be confirmed in District Court.
The purpose of a temporary restraining order is to break the cycle of violence or other harassment quickly and prevent worse consequences. This way, the perpetrator can also be shown that their activities are not allowed.
A police patrol can start the procedure for a restraining order in connection with, for example, a domestic disturbance call. Often the same situation can involve a suspected crime that the police reports.
Supervision and breach of a restraining order
Restraining orders are mainly supervised in connection with other police operations.
Breach of a restraining order is an offence subject to prosecution in court by a public prosecutor. This means that the police can investigate the offences and the prosecutor can bring charges even though the injured party does not demand it.
When the police find out about the breach of a restraining order, the police report an offence and the matter is investigated. The breach of a restraining order can involve other suspected crimes, such as assaults that the police also record in the notification.
Read more about domestic violence
Information on restraining orders on Victim Support Finland’s website
Act on Restraining Orders on Finlex (in Finnish)
Further information on restraining orders on the District Court’s website