A temporary restraining order (TRO) is a court order that is put in place until the court can consider more evidence in the case. In most cases, a TRO lasts for only a few days, until a hearing can be held to determine whether a preliminary injunction will be issued until the full trial can be held. The main requirement for a temporary restraining order generally is that the party requesting the TRO will be immediately harmed in some way — such as financially or physically — if the other party is not restrained. Other requirements for a temporary restraining order typically are procedural, such as the requesting party or an attorney for that party needing to submit the proper paperwork that provides details of the harm that might occur if the TRO is not issued.
Types of TROs
There are many types of temporary restraining orders and reasons why they might be issued. For example, if there is a threat of immediate violence in a domestic dispute, a TRO might be issued to prevent one person from contacting or being near another person until a hearing can be held. A TRO might be issued to prevent a bank or creditor from immediately repossessing a vehicle, equipment or property if doing so might cause irreparable financial harm to the requesting party. Other cases in which TROs might be issued could involve copyright or trademark infringement, among other legal matters.
Prior Notification Not Required
One significant element of a temporary restraining order is that the party that would be restrained does not need to be notified before the TRO is issued. This means that when the requesting party appears before the court to ask for a TRO, the other party is not present and cannot dispute the requesting party's statements. One reason for this is so that the party that would be restrained cannot take action before the TRO is issued. For example, if two neighbors are involved in a dispute over the cutting down of trees near their shared property lines, the neighbor who wants to cut down the trees might do so before the TRO hearing if he or she is aware of it. If he or she is not made aware of the potential TRO before it is issued, however, that person cannot knowingly take action before the TRO is in effect.
Harm Must be Significant
If the harm that might be done if the temporary restraining order is not issued is not immediate, significant and irreparable, then the TRO is unlikely to be issued. For example, a person likely will not be granted a TRO that would prevent a vehicle from being repossessed unless he or she can persuade the court official that being without the vehicle for even a few days would cause significant financial harm. A small delivery business, however, might make a convincing argument that the loss of its delivery vehicle would severely hurt its business.
In Effect for Short Term
After a temporary restraining order is issued, a hearing is held to determine whether a preliminary injunction should be granted. This hearing usually occurs within a few days, and both parties are allowed to state their reasons why the preliminary injunction should or should not be issued. After the hearing, the TRO is then no longer in effect, and the court official must decide whether to issue the preliminary injunction, which would remain in effect until the end of the full trial. The trial, however, might not take place for several weeks, months or even years. At the end of the trial, the court's final decision is considered to be permanent.