A no contact order, often called a restraining order or protective order, is an official order of the court prohibiting the respondent from having contact with the petitioner. The way a petitioner files for the order often varies by jurisdiction, as well as by the purpose for which the order is sought. Usually, the process includes filing an official petition through the local prosecutor's office or a specific court dedicated to hearing such cases. In some situations, a protective order will be filed on behalf of a victim by the prosecutor as part of an ongoing criminal case.
In larger court systems within the United States, there is often a court that is dedicated to handling requests for protective orders. When a dedicated court exists, the petitioner — the person requesting the order — can usually get the fill-in-the blank forms needed to petition for the no contact order. In smaller court systems, the petitioner may be able to obtain assistance and guidance from the local prosecutor's office. The petitioner will need the full name and address of the respondent — the person who the petitioner is requesting the court prohibit from having contact — in order to complete the forms.
The petitioner must complete a petition for a protective order. The petition must include the petitioner's information as well as the legal grounds under which the judge may grant the order. A summons must also be completed and filed with the court so that the respondent can be notified of the petition. The petitioner must provide an address where the respondent may be served with a copy of the petition and court date information.
When the grounds alleged in the petition are incidences of domestic violence, a judge may enter an ex parte order immediately on receipt and review of the petition. An ex parte order is a temporary order granted by the judge without the respondent being allowed to defend the allegations. In this case, it will order the respondent to have no contact with the petitioner, but it will usually expire within 30 days. A hearing will be ordered by the court within the 30 days to give the respondent the opportunity to defend himself or herself against the allegations. The judge may then make the order permanent or terminate the ex parte order.
When a no contact order is requested as part of a criminal case, the prosecuting attorney will usually request the order during the initial hearing. Restraining orders stemming from criminal cases are frequently requested to protect the victim of a crime from harassment or threats made by the defendant. For example, if an employee of a convenience store was robbed, the prosecuting attorney may request an order prohibiting the defendant from contacting the victim in any way.