A plot device I have seen on several TV shows is person A has filed a restraining order against person B, and then person A intentionally gets near person B to make person B have to run away to make sure they don't violate the restraining order. John Oliver does it to Ken Jeung in this clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUDYH_5szo4&feature=youtu.be&t=14m6s

Is person A breaking any laws if they do this? Would this count as person B violating the order if they didn't back away?

  • Damn. I was expecting a clip from Last Week Tonight, demonstrating the dysfunctions and abuse potential of frivolous restraining orders. Instead, you picked something from an NBC sitcom. By the way, link's broken now.
    – Iszi
    Oct 9, 2017 at 19:19

1 Answer 1


Restraining orders are a matter of state law and the technical answer will vary by jurisdiction. However, abusing a restraining order to harass someone is the kind of behavior that will make you look unreasonable to a judge (and unafraid of your abuser) and hurt you in subsequent actions before that judge, such as in a divorce or when you are seeking to extend the duration of that order. In addition, the court can issue a restraining order against you.

In theory, such abuse of an order may also make you liable for criminal or civil penalties related to the state's harassment or anti-stalking statutes, but you would need to review the law in the particular state. In practice, it is likely that the judge or commissioner reviewing a case will listen to the facts and tell you to knock it off, whether they put it in an order or not. Regardless of the particular outcome, it is just a bad idea. However, for an understanding of the law in a particular state, ask a lawyer admitted in that jurisdiction to advise you on the consequences of that course of action.

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