Do Restraining Orders Show up on Background Checks?

Posted on by JACK MKHITARIAN

Background checks happen for numerous reasons – whether you’re applying for a new job, entering into the military, or looking to rent an apartment. These checks are used to determine your liability, and to see if you qualify for certain benefits and programs. For example, the military has strict rules on who can enter, and your background check may disqualify you from military service.

If you have had a restraining order placed against you, you may wonder if that will show on a background check and how it will affect you. Typically, restraining orders are civil, which means they shouldn’t show on a criminal background check. But it really depends on how in-depth of a criminal check the company or party does. In some cases, that restraining order can show up.

What Is a Restraining Order?

Restraining orders often referred to as “orders of protection,” are court-ordered protection given to one party. They will limit a person from contacting or being within a specified number of yards of the party that seeks the protective order. These orders can be issued in cases of harassment, domestic violence, stalking, and even violent assault.

Unfortunately, restraining orders can also be used vindictively. The burden of proof to get a protective order is minimal. This means someone can go to court and get a restraining order as a way to retaliate against another – even when the party named in the protective order has done nothing wrong. It is not uncommon to see restraining orders in heated divorces or instances where child custody battles are taking place.

A restraining order can severely impact your quality of life, and the longer the duration, the harder it is on you. Some can last a few years, while others are a few weeks. You are prohibited, while it is active, from contacting the party and sometimes even their extended family members. You must keep a distance between yourself and that protected party until the order expires, and you cannot contact them through intermediaries (such as friends).

When Would a Restraining Order Show up on a Background Check?

A general criminal background check, like those done by employers, should not show a restraining order, as that is a civil matter. However, more in-depth criminal background checks, like those done for the military or security clearance, will show a restraining order issued against you. Even expired orders may appear in those more in-depth checks.

For general checks, however, it should not show. Therefore, if you are applying for a lease, the landlord may not see that restraining order.

However, there are instances where that civil restraining order will show on a criminal background check, and it is imperative you understand the situations where this applies and how it may affect you.

When a Protective Order Is Issued with Criminal Charges

Sometimes, a protective order is issued in tandem with criminal charges. Therefore, if you have pending criminal charges against you, the background check would reveal those charges and the outcome of the case (if it resolves). The arrest would also show on a criminal background check.

Therefore, you may not get convicted. But if you were arrested, it will show on the background check and that may impact your ability to get a job, seek military service enlistments, or even qualify for some rentals in the area.

When You Violate a Restraining Order, It Becomes a Criminal Matter

While a restraining order is civil, it becomes criminal if you violate that restraining order.

Therefore, if the restraining order was filed and there are no criminal charges along with it, the moment you violate it, you now have a criminal record.

The terms of a protective order are very clear – especially as to what you can and cannot do. Therefore, you should read it carefully and hire an attorney to explain your rights once one has been issued. Even if you disagree with it, or you know it was placed unfairly as means of retribution, you cannot violate the protective order. Doing so can negatively impact you the rest of your life.

Law Enforcement Will See Restraining Orders Regardless

If you are pulled over and the officer runs a check on you, the restraining order will show up, whether permanent or temporary. These are part of law enforcement’s database and they will remain there while active. Past restraining orders may stay in their system as well – even when they expire.

Restraining Orders Will Appear on Background Checks for Firearms

When getting a firearm, a restraining order will appear on that background check. A restraining order prohibits you from possessing, purchasing, or carrying a firearm while active. Once the restraining order is removed, you would then be able to purchase a firearm again.

Should You Hire an Attorney If You Have a Restraining Order Placed against You?

It is in your best interest to hire an attorney if someone has placed a restraining order against you.

If someone files one against you, the next steps you take could impact you for the rest of your life.

Usually, you will have a temporary restraining order first. In that order, you will also have a hearing notification. The hearing is your opportunity to prove that the restraining order is unnecessary. The party that was granted the order, known as the petitioner in court, had filed the forms with your district court to receive it. The judge grants it without you present, and you only hear about the protective order once it is in place.

The order is then effective the moment it is signed, and you are served a copy, typically by the sheriff. You can contest that order, but you only have so many days to do so. That is why you must hire an attorney so that you can contest the order in time, and present your case to the court showing why the order was granted unfairly.

If someone has filed a restraining order against you, fight back by hiring a criminal attorney right away. The team at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices understands how devastating a protective order can be on your life, including background checks. Call us now to schedule a free case evaluation or request your appointment online.