A Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”) is the first step in a domestic violence case. TROs are usually obtained through an ex parte court proceeding. Ex parte means the “plaintiff” (person claiming to be a victim of domestic violence) may ask for a court hearing without notifying the "defendant" (person accused of domestic violence).
At the TRO hearing, the plaintiff may testify or bring in other evidence of domestic violence. There is usually a court reporter present who will record what is said. If the court finds sufficient evidence, it will issue a TRO against the defendant. A police officer or sheriff must serve (deliver) the TRO to the defendant within 24 hours of the hearing.
A TRO prohibits the defendant from engaging in certain behaviors on a temporary basis. The defendant will be restrained from having contact with the plaintiff and prohibited from returning to his or her home if it’s shared with the plaintiff. In custody cases, TROs may also prevent defendants from visiting their children.
TROs usually expire within 10 days. In order to extend a TRO, the plaintiff must file a complaint for domestic violence, and ask for a full court hearing.