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Know the Laws: Wisconsin

UPDATED June 22, 2017

Harassment Restraining Order

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A harassment restraining order can be issued for victims of harassment as well as other types of abuse.  You may qualify for a harassment restraining order if you are the victim of threatened or actual unwanted physical contact, physical abuse, sexual assault, stalking, or harassment.  The order can be issued regardless of your relationship to the person.

Basic information

back to topWhat is the legal definition of harassment in Wisconsin?

For the purposes of getting a harassment restraining order, the legal definition of "harassment" includes:

  • striking, shoving, kicking or otherwise subjecting another person to physical contact;
  • child abuse (as defined by law);
  • sexual assault;
  • stalking;
  • attempting or threatening to commit any of the above acts; and
  • repeated acts that harass or intimidate another person and which serve no legitimate (valid) purpose.*

* Wis. Stat. § 813.125(1)

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back to topWhat types of harassment restraining orders are there? How long do they last?

There are temporary and final harassment restraining orders (also called injunctions).  A temporary order may be granted by a judge or circuit court commissioner if s/he finds reasonable grounds to believe that the abuser has intentionally harassed or intimidated the victim.*  The temporary order lasts for 14 days or until the full court hearing.**

A final harassment restraining order or injunction, can be granted only after a full court hearing where the victim and abuser both get a chance to tell their sides of the story.  If granted, a final harassment restraining order may last for up to 4 years.***  However, there is a possibility that the injunction can last for up to 10 years if you can prove there is a substantial risk that the respondent may commit any of these crimes against you: first-degree intentional homicidesecond-degree intentional homicidesexual assault or sexual assault of a child (sections (1) or (2)).****

* Wis. Stat. § 813.125(3)(a)(1)
** Wis. Stat. § 813.125(3)(c)
*** Wis. Stat. § 813.125(4)(c)
**** Wis. Stat. § 813.125(4)(d)

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back to topHow can a harassment restraining order help me?

A harassment restraining order (both the temporary order and the injunction) can order the abuser to:

  • not have contact with you directly or indirectly (except through his/her attorney or a law enforcement officer);
  • not harass you;
  • stay away from your home and/or any place where you are temporarily living;
  • not remove, hide, damage, harm, mistreat, or get rid of a household pet; 
  • allow you or someone on your behalf to get a household pet from the home;* and
  • surrender any firearms that s/he owns or has in his/her possession to the sheriff - however, this can only be ordered in an injunction (not in a temporary order) and you must present "clear and convincing evidence" at the hearing that the abuser may use a firearm to cause physical harm to you or another person or to endanger public safety.** (However, if the abuser is a peace officer, this does not apply to any firearm that s/he is required to possess, as a condition of employment, while s/he is on or off duty.)***

Note: If you share a wireless telephone number with the abuser, you can request that the judge order the service provider to transfer to you the right to continue to use any telephone number(s) that you and/or your minor child uses (and you will have to take over payments for that account).****
 
* Wis. Stat. § 813.125(3)(a),(4)(a)
** Wis. Stat. § 813.125(4m)(a),(c)(2)
*** Wis. Stat. § 813.125(4m)(cg)
**** Wis. Stat. § 813.125(4g)

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Getting the order

back to topWho is eligible to file for a harassment restraining order? Can a minor file?

Anyone who is being physically or sexually abused, stalked, threatened, and/or harassed or intimidated repeatedly with no legitimate (valid) purpose by another person is eligible to file for a harassment order.*

If the victim of harassment is a minor (under age 18), the minor can file on his/her own or the minor's parent, step-parent, or legal guardian can file on the minor's behalf.**  The judge may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the minor, but appointment of a guardian ad litem is not necessary for a child victim to petition for a harassment restraining order.***

* See Wis. Stat. § 813.125(1) 
** Wis. Stat. §§ 813.125(2)(b), 813.122(1)(b)
*** Wis. Stat. § 813.125(2g),(2)(b)

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back to topWhat are the steps for getting a harassment restraining order?

The steps for getting a harassment restraining order are similar to the steps for getting a domestic abuse injunction. The forms will be slightly different, so be sure to ask the clerk for the paperwork to file for a harassment restraining order. See our WI Download Court Forms page for the forms that you might need.

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back to topCan a final harassment restraining order be extended?

Yes.  There is a possibility that the injunction can be extended for a period of time (from the initial order) that equals 10 years but only if you can prove there is a substantial risk that the respondent may commit any of these crimes against you: first-degree intentional homicidesecond-degree intentional homicidesexual assault or sexual assault of a child (sections (1) or (2)).*

* Wis. Stat. § 813.125(4)(d)(1)

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