Restraining order

By a restraining order, the life, health, liberty or inviolability of a person may be protected by prohibiting another person from contacting him or her.

Who can apply for a restraining order?

An application for a restraining order may be filed by anyone who has justified grounds for feeling threatened or seriously harassed by someone else. A person applying for a restraining order must present an account of the threat of an offence or other serious harassment so that the threat or harassment can be detected by an outside person. Some typical instances where a restraining order may be used are a threat of violence or serious harassment by a former spouse or partner who repeatedly contacts or attempts to visit the person. In addition, a restraining order may be used for the protection of a witness in a trial.

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. A prosecutor, the police or the social welfare authorities may also apply for the imposition of a restraining order, if the threatened person himself or herself is too intimidated to do so.

How to apply for a restraining order

An application for a restraining order is filed with the police or directly with a district court; the application may be written or oral. A form for this purpose is available on the website of the judicial administration. 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 immediately submitted to the district court for review.

A restraining order is in force for the period determined by the district court; however, at most one year. An inside-the-family restraining order can be imposed for a maximum of three months. A restraining order may be renewed, and an application for renewal can be filed already before the previous order has expired.

A court fee is charged from the person applying for restraining order, unless the applicant is entitled to legal aid for economic reasons. No fee is charged if a restraining order is imposed.

Hearing in a case concerning a restraining order

The district court considers applications for restraining orders as urgent matters. The procedure is similar to the procedure in criminal cases. The parties are summoned to a district court session, where any evidence is examined and both parties and witnesses are heard.

Violation of a restraining order

The violation of a restraining order is a punishable offence. The punishment 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.

Published 25.7.2019