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What is a Cease and Desist Order?

A cease and desist order is issued by a court to a person or organization.
Cease and desist orders have been used to prevent the publication of certain material.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 24 August 2014
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A cease and desist order is a legal document that is issued to a person or organization, ordering them to stop engaging in a particular activity or face legal penalties. Such orders can be used in a number of ways, and their usage is sometimes criticized by people who fear that they can be used as a silencing technique to shut down people who are not familiar with the law.

One example of a cease and desist order is an order issued by a court. The court can issue the order in response to a request from a government, company, or individual, or in response to the outcome of a trial. In a temporary injunction, the court simply directs the subject of the order to temporarily suspend the activity in question, while a permanent injunction indicates that the activity needs to be stopped permanently.

For example, someone who fears that he or she will be libeled in a book can ask a court for a temporary injunction to halt publication until the case can be brought to trial and discussed. If the outcome of a trial is that the book is indeed libelous, the court may issue a permanent cease and desist order, indicating that the book cannot be published.

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Individuals and companies can also issue cease and desist orders directly, usually using a lawyer to draft the document so that it will adhere to the law. These documents typically threaten the subject with legal action unless he or she ceases an activity. A company, for instance, might issue such an order to someone who was releasing trade secrets, or an individual might write up a cease and desist letter against someone who is engaging in harassment.

When someone receives a cease and desist order, whether it is from a court or an individual, they should ask a lawyer to review it. The lawyer can study the terms of the order to determine whether or not it is valid. If it is invalid, the lawyer can challenge it, although temporary adherence to the document is usually recommended to show that the target of the order is not being belligerent or uncooperative. Some companies and individuals send cease and desist letters on a regular basis, blanketing anyone who causes perceived offense, and many of these letters actually do not stand up legally, although people may comply with them out of fear.

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Discuss this Article

anon269972
Post 8

What if a foreign company violates a cease and desist order from a Florida state administrative judge?

cubsfan99
Post 7

A single homeowner in a condo complex has sent a cease and desist order to the HOA board. This document is nothing more than an email, and has no signatures. It only claims to be from "concerned homeowners". Yet, there are no homeowners names given. Is this a valid order?

anon208715
Post 5

If there is a cease and desist order, then the infringers remove the material immediately, can they still face legal action for selling the material before. In case of websites, what is the proof of them doing so?

Acracadabra
Post 4

It's easy to get into trouble with a music company if you use a song they have rights to on your blog or website. I just got a cease and desist letter from one of them, and having read this article I understand that it's one of thousands they send to people like me every month.

CaithnessCC
Post 3

A woman at work has just used a cease and desist order to deal with a very persistent stalker. We are all hoping that this will actually work, though it's hard to tell at this point.

She was going to use one of those cease and desist forms available on the net but we persuaded her to use a lawyer instead and get a proper court order.

yumdelish
Post 2

@harley2850 - If you are talking about a cease and desist in letter form, rather than an actual order, then the legalities are different.

Basically anyone can write that, though a lawyer may be paid to do it to make it look more official. It sounds quite vague but I would assume that a request for no contact would cover everyone in the family or household it was addressed to.

harley2850
Post 1

Does a cease and desist or no contact letter from a lawyer have to specify the state statue? Who can serve the letter in the state of Florida? If the letter says "Mr and Mrs Jones request no contact be made," does that also apply to the children or just the adults?

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