How to Find Out if Someone has a Restraining Order

Year after year, criminal and violent cases are rising, making it more critical for people to do a thorough background check before engaging with someone.

One of the most important things to look out for when doing a background check is whether or not that person has a restraining order against them.

This legal order protects an individual from another person who may pose a threat or danger.

This guide will discuss restraining orders, their different categories, and how to search for a restraining order.

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What is a Restraining Order?

A restraining order is a court order issued by a judge to prevent someone from causing harm to another in situations involving domestic violence, harassment, stalking, or sexual assault.

The document orders the offender to stay away from the victim and refrain from causing further trouble.

It offers protection to any domestic abuse victim, regardless of age, who has suffered at the hands of someone. The order also extends to individuals who were previously in abusive relationships. 

The court may grant the restraining order when it sees that the victim needs more protection. It may be placed on any person convicted or acquitted of a criminal offense, even if the defendant is found not guilty by the judge.

A restraining order may last indefinitely until further notice from the judge. The court can change or end a restraining order upon request by either party. It is usually part of the public record, which will likely appear on a criminal background check.

Categories of Restraining Order


Domestic violence

The Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO), requires that the perpetrator should away from the victim. It offers civil legal protection to female and male domestic violence victims.

You can file for a DVPO against anyone if you have one of the following relationships with that person:

  • spouse or ex-spouse
  • a person who you have previously or currently live with
  • a person with whom you have a child
  • someone of the opposite sex that you dated in the past.
  • a parent, child, grandparent, or grandchild.

Elder or dependent adult abuse

Under the law, elders and dependent adults can file a restraining order to protect them from abuse. 

Abuse can take many forms, including physical, emotional, mental, financial, neglectful, or isolating behaviors.

Withholding basic needs from a victim is also considered abuse if it results in suffering physically and mentally.

You can file for this restraining order if you are an “elder” or a “dependent adult.” An “elder” is anyone 65 years of age or older.

A “dependent adult” are those aged 18-64 with physical or mental limitations that restrict their ability to carry out everyday activities independently.

Civil harassment

A civil harassment restraining order is a court order that helps protect people from acts of violence, severe harassment, stalking or threats of violence.

You can file a civil harassment restraining order to someone who abused (threatened to abuse) you sexually assaulted, harassed, or stalked you.

The person you want to file a civil harassment restraining order against cannot be your spouse/partner (or former), someone you dated, or a close relative like your parent, child, brother, or sister.

Workplace violence

An employer may request an order from the court to stop harassment against an employee if that employee has experienced or been threatened with unlawful violence at work.

Employees cant ask for workplace violence protective orders for themselves.

A workplace violence protective order can prohibit the respondent from:

  • Giving threats to the employee or anyone in their household, or other coworkers;
  • Any attempts to contact the employee, their children, other household members, or any fellow employees, regardless of location
  • Possess or own a gun

Criminal Protective Order (CPO)

A CPO or Emergency Protective Order protects witnesses or victims of crime. It orders the restrained person not to communicate with, threaten, or hurt the other individual in any way.

The District Attorney initiates the charges in a criminal case against a defendant. The first time the defendant appears in court, the judge can approve the requested protection for victims if necessary.

How to Lookup a Restraining Order?

Search the state or county’s website

You can find electronic court records online. These are records that courts maintain in an electronic format, and you look up a court record online through a computer at the courthouse or remote access in your home or a public library.

The public has access to most court records, so a restraining order court case should be accessible online. 

Make a public records request

In most states, you need to follow specific requirements for public records requests and procedures. You’ll usually need to provide identifying information about yourself and your request.

Once you have the court records, you can review them to see if someone has a restraining order, who filed it, and the specific details. You can also find out if someone has a history of violating their restraining orders or if any other protective charges have been filed against them.

Hire a private investigator

Private investigators can get pieces of evidence legally so that they can later be used in court proceedings. They also have access to sensitive information that is not available to the public.

They can search databases and courthouses for information about the case and provide you with a detailed report of their findings. Moreover, the investigator will handle any information they discover professionally and confidentially.

How Do I Find Out if I have a Restraining Order Against Me?

When someone issues a restraining order against you, you’ll usually get a notification against the order.

If not, you can search online on the county or state’s court website to see if there’s an open restraining order filed against you.

You can visit or call the county office for help searching if the information is unavailable online. You can also call the county’s sheriff’s office where you think the order was filed and ask for assistance from the deputy who handles restraining orders.

What Happens if Someone Files a Restraining Order Against You?

The police or mail service will serve you if someone has filed a restraining order against you. However, they will not include the Complaint application or Affidavit, so you will obtain copies before the hearing.

You can attend the hearing and contest the order if you are served with a restraining order. It allows you to tell your side of the story.

Even if a restraining order is filed against you, you have the right to an attorney and a fair hearing. The most effective way to withstand a restraining order being granted is to collect evidence that the other party made false allegations.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do restraining orders show up on background checks? 

In most cases, yes.  Temporary restraining orders are visible to law enforcement officials. A permanent restraining order hearing will follow after a temporary restraining order is issued. 

If the restraining order gets denied at that hearing, it should be expunged from your record. However, if the hearing results in a permanent restraining order, it shows on your record.

Are No Contact Orders considered as public records?

No contact orders are legal protection orders set in place by the courts for a specific time to protect individuals who may be in danger due to another individual.

No contact orders public records unless they have been sealed due to a court order or other similar document.

bryan rucker
Written by Brian Williams

Brian is an expert in security, privacy, and information. He has studied background checks, criminal, people search, and such topics over the last 5 years. He is also an avid writer and enjoys sharing his knowledge through this blog. Read more of Brian's articles.