What can I do if the abuser violates the order?
Violating a protection order can be against the law. There are two ways to get help if the abuser violates the protection order.
Through the police or sheriff (criminal system)
If the abuser violates the protection order, you can call 911 immediately. Tell the officers you have a protection order and the respondent is violating it. If the respondent is arrested, then the district attorney can prosecute the abuser because it can be a Class A misdemeanor to violate a protection order. If found guilty of a violation of a protection order, the respondent can be punished with jail time, a fine, or other penalty.1
Through the civil court system
You may file a motion/petition for civil contempt for a violation of the order in the same court that issued the order. The abuser can be held in “civil contempt” if s/he does anything that your protection order orders him/her not to do. To file for civil contempt, go to the clerk’s office and ask for the forms to file for civil contempt.2
Note: If the respondent is found to be in violation of the order, the court may extend the order of protection for up to five years. After a second, third, fourth, or other violation of the order, the court may extend the order of protection for up to ten years.3
For more information about contempt, including the difference between criminal contempt and civil contempt, go to our general Domestic Violence Restraining Orders page.
1 TN ST §§ 36-3-610(a), (b)(2); 39-13-113(f), (g)
2 TN ST § 36-3-610(a)
3 TN ST § 36-3-605(d)