Some typical instances where a restraining order may be used are serious harassment by a former spouse or partner by contact or attempted entry, as well as situations where a grown child attempts to press an aged parent for money. In addition, a restraining order may be used for the protection of a witness in a trial. However, a petition for a restraining order may be filed by anyone who has justified grounds for feeling threatened or seriously harassed by someone else.
A restraining order can also be issued to apply to persons living permanently in the same residence, in which case the person against whom the restraining order has been issued, must stay away from the common residence. Also a prosecutor, the police or the social welfare authorities may petition for the issue of a restraining order, if the threatened person himself or herself is too intimidated to do so.
A petition for a restraining order is filed with the police or directly with a district court; the petition may be written or oral. An interim restraining order, effective immediately, can be issued by a senior police officer or by a prosecutor. In this event, the interim order is at once submitted to the district court for review.
The restraining order shall remain in force for the period laid down by the district court, at most one year. The order may be renewed, if necessary. A restraining order inside the family can be imposed for a maximum of three months.
A court fee is charged for filing a petition for restraining order, unless the petitioner is entitled to legal aid for economic reasons.
The district court hears matters of restraining orders as urgent matters. The procedure is similar to that applicable in criminal cases, so that the parties are summoned to a court session in which any evidence is examined and both parties, and witnesses, are heard.
The violation of a restraining order is a punishable offence. The penalty is a fine, or imprisonment for at most one year. The violation is an offence subject to public prosecution, which means that the prosecutor may bring a charge for it on his or her own initiative.