Temporary Restraining Orders

Temporary restraining orders (TROs) are civil orders issued by the court prohibiting contact between individuals or prohibiting contact between an individual and certain locations. TROs can be obtained in either the family or District Court, depending on the circumstances and the relationship between the parties.  

TROs pertaining to family or household members are governed by Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) § 586-4. “Family or household member” means spouses or reciprocal beneficiaries, former spouses or former reciprocal beneficiaries, persons who have a child in common, parents, children, persons related by consanguinity, persons jointly residing or formerly residing in the same dwelling unit, and persons who have or have had a dating relationship” and “Does not include those who are, or were, adult roommates or cohabitants only by virtue of an economic or contractual affiliation.”  

If the parties involved are family or household members as defined by law, then the TRO would typically be obtained in Family Court. District Court TROs usually pertain to individuals who are not classified as a family or household members. 

TROs prohibit one individual from contacting another. Such prohibited contact may often be: 

  • Contacting, threatening, or physically abusing the protected party; 
  • Contacting, threatening, or physically abusing any person residing at the protected party’s residence; or 
  • Entering or visiting the protected party’s residence. 

A person may also be prohibited from visiting certain locations such as a person’s place of employment or prohibited from coming within a certain distance of a location, i.e. 100 feet from a person’s residence or place of employment. TROs can also cover more than one person, i.e. a person may be prohibited from contacting another person and their children. TROs can also prohibit contact with a person’s own children. 

District Court TROs are usually granted for an initial 90-day period. Family Court TROs are usually granted for an initial 180-day period.  Shortly after the TRO is served on the Respondent, a court hearing is held to determine whether the TRO should be extended into a more permanent order. In the District Court, an extended TRO is called an “Injunction Against Harassment”.  If the TRO is extended in the Family Court, it is then referred to as an “Order for Protection”. 

TROs in District Court are governed by HRS § 604-10.5. HRS § 604-10.5 allows an individual to petition the District Court (as opposed to the Family Court) for TROs against individuals who harass another person. Harassment is defined by HRS § 604-10.5 as: 

  • Physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the threat of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, or assault; or 
  • An intentional or knowing course of conduct directed at an individual that seriously alarms or disturbs consistently or continually bothers the individual, and that serves no legitimate purpose; provided that such course of conduct would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress. 

Both an individual petitioning for a TRO (Petitioner) and an individual responding to a TRO (Respondent) can obtain an attorney’s assistance to draft the petition and to represent them at the TRO hearing. Having a TRO against you can lead to a variety of consequences. For example, if you violate the TRO, Order for Protection, or Injunction Against Harassment, you can be charged with a criminal offense. Violation of a TRO or Order for Protection is classified as a criminal misdemeanor, which means the maximum penalty for a conviction is one year in jail and up to a $2000 fine. People convicted of a TRO Violation, a Violation of an Order for Protection, or a Violation of an Injunction Against Harassment could also be facing a mandatory jail sentence, a probationary term, classes/treatment and/or court fees. Having a TRO against you could also affect employment, child custody, your ability to own or possess firearms, and other aspects of your life. 

Because of these possible consequences, any individual involved in any TRO proceeding should consider consulting with an attorney. 

**This website is for informational purposes only. Nothing on this website is meant to be or should be construed as legal advice. Before making any decisions about your case, please consult with an attorney as the facts and circumstances of every case is different.