Temporary Restraining Orders, or TROs, are Court Orders that prohibit a person from having direct or indirect contact with another person for a specified amount of time, prior to an Injunction Hearing being held. There is one Petitioner, the one who filed the TRO, and one Respondent, the person against whom the TRO is filed. There are multiple types of Temporary Restraining Orders– Harassment TROs, Domestic Abuse TROs, Child Abuse TROs, Individual at Risk, and Juvenile Harassment. This article will focus on Harassment TROs.
To file a Harassment TRO, the Petitioner must:
1. Locate the Petition online or through the Clerks of Courts Office.
2. Complete the Petition and file it with the Clerk of Courts Office. The Petition must include the allegations present within Wisconsin Statute 813.125(5) to be issued.
3. Wait for the Court to issue or deny the Petition. There will be a Court date set, which can happen regardless of whether the TRO petition is granted or denied. If the Petition is granted, the Temporary Restraining Order goes into effect until the Hearing.
4. The Injunction Hearing will determine whether the Petition is converted into an Injunction against the Respondent.
It might be difficult to understand the difference between a Petition, TRO, and Injunction so let’s break it down.
A Harassment Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) attempts to protect a person from being the victim of intentionally aggressive, harassing, or intimidating behavior if said behavior serves no legitimate purpose while they await a hearing on the issues. In order to obtain a Harassment TRO, one must allege in a Petition to the Court that they have been subjected to either:
1. Striking, shoving, kicking, or otherwise being subjected to physical contact, conduct that would constitute abuse, sexual assault, or stalking, or any threats to do the same, or
2. A course of conduct or repeated acts which harass or intimidate, and which serve no legitimate purpose. (Wis. Stat. 813.125).
Deciding whether a particular act “serves no legitimate purpose” is reviewed by the Judge or Circuit Court Commissioner, who will also determine if there are reasonable grounds to believe the Respondent engaged in particular behavior with the intent to harass or intimidate the Petitioner.
Once a Petition is filed, it is up to the Court to decide whether to issue a TRO based on the information alleged within the Petition. A TRO is a temporary court order that prohibits certain behavior until a hearing can be held on whether to grant a Harassment Injunction. The Court will schedule a Hearing Date within 14 days of the submission of the Petition. The TRO, if issued, will remain in place until an Injunction Hearing is held.
At the Injunction Hearing, the proof of harassment will be heard by the Judge or Court Commissioner. If the Court finds there are reasonable grounds to believe that the actions alleged against the Respondent did take place and were harassment as defined in Wisconsin Statute 813.125, the TRO will be granted into an Injunction. The Petitioner must be present for the Injunction to be granted. The Injunction, if ordered by the Judge or Commissioner, may include terms that prohibit the Respondent from having any contact with the Petitioner, to avoid the Petitioners residence or any premises temporarily occupied by the Petitioner, and to refrain from refrain from removing, hiding, damaging, or mistreating or disposing of a household pet, or any combination of the previously mentioned terms.
In addition, the Court may prohibit the Respondent from possessing any firearms. An Injunction can last up to 4 years and can be extended up to 10 years if the Judge or Commissioner finds there is a substantial risk of either homicide or sexual assault against the Petitioner - whereas a TRO lasts only for a short time, typically less than two weeks. However, an Injunction may last longer if the Petitioner wishes to file an extension.
It is important to mention that if an Injunction is granted, the facts surrounding the Petition become public information and may be readily accessible to inquiring parties.
To apply for a TRO, you can reach out to the Clerk of Courts or consult an attorney. You can read more about Harassment Injunctions and Temporary Restraining Orders in Wisconsin Statute 813.125. If you or someone you know would like help to file a Petition for a TRO/Injunction, or needs help defending against a TRO/Injunction Petition, contact Levine Eisberner LLC at 608-621-2888 for a consultation today.