Can my Ex File a Restraining Order Against for Emails?

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“I recently broke up with my girlfriend, and I have been emailing her a few times over the last week. The emails are completely non-threatening in any way, shape, or form. In fact the emails are very sweet. My exgirlfriend has told me that she wants me to stop contacting her…stop calling her and stop emailing her, or she is threatening to file a restraining order against me. My question is, if i stop calling her…which i have…but if i send her an email from time to time, which are again friendly and nonthreatening, is this grounds for me to get into trouble? I told her that i will try and stop emailing her, but if i sent her an email and she didn’t want to read it…she could erase it, or even simply block my address. She is reluctant to block my address. I don’t know if she really means what she says, but i wanted to know how i would know if she indeed file a restraining order against me. Would I have to be notified if a restraining order was indeed placed against me? Also, could she file a restraining order against me for friendly emails? Furthermore, she lives in Dallas Texas, and i live in NYC, NY….I don’t know if this has any implications. Please get back to me.”

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

“Threatening” is in the eye of the beholder, or more particularly, in the eye of the object of unwanted communications and attentions. Communications don’t have to use threatening language to merit a restraining order. Indeed, courts will sometime grant restraining orders for based on simple harassment or other signs that the subject of the order is engaged in obsessive behavior that a reasonable person would see as potentially threatening.

The enforceability of restraining orders across state lines is a complicated question and really beyond the scope of this conversation. Simply put, it’s not something you want to test, because such a court battle will usually start with you being hauled off to jail, at which point you’ll have entered a whole new world of problems.

Even if you aren’t at risk of going to jail, a restraining order is not something you want to have on your record. Court records are public documents and can be searchable by current and prospective employers, insurance agents and loan officers, and will turn up on background checks. Generally speaking, restraining orders are seen as a sign of someone’s lack of mental stability, inability to exercise self-control, and a sign of very poor judgment.

With all due respect, you have your priorities out of order. Instead of consulting a legal professional to determine the enforceability of a restraining order, perhaps you should be consulting a mental health professional who can assist you with letting go of the failed relationship and helping you to move on. In the end, a few sessions with a good psychotherapist will be vastly less expensive, and less damaging to your personal reputation, than a fight over a restraining order.

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Author: Ray Everett-Church, Esq.

Ray Everett-Church is a privacy and security consultant with PrivacyClue LLC and is co-author of "Internet Privacy for Dummies"