Quick Info: Domestic Violence Protection Orders

Domestic Violence Protection Orders

Who:

Anybody who asserts that he or she is a victim of domestic violence can petition the court ex parte (i.e., without the other side being present in court to respond) for a temporary order of protection which restricts another person’s ability to contact the protected person or to be in certain locations. Adults can petition on behalf of minor children.  There are some parameters around petitioners and respondents who are minors.  A domestic violence protection order is only available to those who have what the law calls a “family or household member” relationship. This generally means past or present dating, marital, family or living together relationships between the parties.

What:

A domestic violence protection order is not a conviction and the consequence of receiving one is not jail. It is a court order that prohibits someone from going certain places or having certain communication with a certain person.  If it is violated, or if someone says it was violated, the police can arrest the person subject to the order. So a respondent to a protection order can be vulnerable to the word or bad motives of the person who is protected by the order.  A protection order is readily available to law enforcement and the information can be easily accessed by members of the public as well.

When: The court doors are open any week day  to an ex parte request for a temporary order. The temporary order is only temporary. It has to be served in order for the hearing on the “full order” to be heard in 14 days.  At the 14 day hearing, the court can extend the temporary order and give the respondent more time to prepare a response, which is typical if an attorney gets involved.  The “full order” is typically one year in duration but can be longer if the court finds that domestic violence is likely to reoccur unless the order is entered for a longer period.

Where:

These orders can be obtained in municipal, county district courts or county superior courts.  Municipal and district courts may only have jurisdiction over the temporary order depending upon the circumstances of the case.  The order can be obtained in the county where the petitioner resides.  The orders are entered into the same statewide criminal intelligence database that stores outstanding arrest warrant information. Thus, a respondent is readily subject to arrest statewide.

How:

These orders require the Petitioner prove that there as an act of domestic violence with  “family or household member”.  This means the Petitioner has to establish that the Respondent either physically or sexually assaulted him/her, stalked her or has inflicted fear of imminent bodily injury. Emotional abuse is not enough.  Protection orders are also not about punishment for past acts, there must be a true need  for protection.  The standard of proof is less than in a criminal case. The Petitioner need only prove by a preponderance of the evidence (51%) that domestic violence occurred. This is a low standard which means there is a good chance of success for the Petitioner unless a skilled defense to the petition is presented.

This is where the quick overview ends. Each case is unique and the best approach and defense is varied.  A strong and effective case strategy by a knowledgeable domestic violence attorney requires establishing a working relationship as soon as possible.