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A court-ordered injunction is a decree made by a recognized court that either compels someone to take an action or prevents someone from taking an action. The issuing court must have jurisdiction over the party being compelled or prevented and must also have jurisdiction over the action or actions involved. Injunctions can be applied to any entity with legal standing. They are often temporary measures, effective pending the settlement of a court case. Violation of such an injunction can result in varying punishments, from fines to imprisonment, depending on the situation.
Often, a court-ordered injunction is put in place to prevent a party from committing an act until a court decision is made. One example would be barring the beneficiary of a contested will from selling property until after the contest is heard. Another might be to prevent a custodial parent or spouse from allowing a medical procedure or terminating a life support arrangement until a revised custody petition is heard.
In other cases, however, a court-ordered injunction forces a party to take an action. This might include releasing records or funds to a third party or to someone who has a legal right to the data or money. Sometimes such injunctions merely enforce an existing court order or decree. For example, a parent might be compelled to honor the visitation rights granted to the other parent by a divorce decree.
Most courts, either criminal or civil, can issue court-ordered injunctions, provided they have jurisdiction over both the parties and the actions involved. This means that a criminal court cannot issue an injunction in a civil case, even if it has geographic jurisdiction over the party involved. Similarly, a local court cannot issue an injunction in a federal case. Injunctions involving foreign nationals can become quite complex and depend on the circumstances of the situation.
Any legal entity can be involved in a court-ordered injunction. This includes private individuals, companies, corporations and formal organizations. It also includes governmental entities, such as cities, countries, police departments and more.
Punishment for violating a court-ordered injunction varies based on the court involved and the nature of both the injunction and the violation. Minor violations that are not repeated might incur a warning, but will probably involve a fine and/or assignment of community service. More serious violations — or those committed by repeat violators — can carry high fines, forfeiture of rights or property and even jail time.
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