Order of Protection

The term Order of Protection refers to a document issued by a court to protect victims of domestic abuse. The order limits the adverse party’s behavior by specifying the conduct allowed and prohibited. Failure to comply with an order can result in arrest and prosecution. To explore this concept, consider the following Order of Protection definition.

Definition of Order of Protection

Noun

  1. A court order that protects victims of domestic abuse by limiting the perpetrator’s behavior.

What is Order of Protection Meaning?

Every state has laws to protect victims of domestic abuse from further violence.  These laws vary but all offer an Order of Protection, sometimes called a “protection order,” or “restraining order.” Once signed by a judge, the order requires the abuser to stop harming the victim. While an order will not necessarily prevent abuse, it allows the victim to notify police and have the abuser arrested.

Most courts offer various types of orders, including emergency protection orders (“EPO”) and permanent protection orders (“PPO”). A temporary order provides victims with immediate protection and lasts up to 30 days. At the end of that time, a hearing takes place. At the hearing, a judge determines if the case warrants protection for a greater length of time. If the judge grants this, it extends the protection for a year or more.

Who Needs an Order of Protection

Individuals experiencing abuse by someone in a close relationship may need to file for an Order of Protection. Such abuse does not need to be only physical violence, but also includes threats of violence, stalking, sexual abuse, and harassment. Someone who needs an order of protection may also need to include in the order protection for children, elderly persons, or dependent adults.

How to Obtain an Order of Protection

Instructions on how to obtain an Order of Protection are available from the court. They are, in fact, generally printed right on the downloadable forms. The first involves petitioning the court for a temporary or emergency protective order. The victim can get the paperwork needed to file from their local courthouse. In fact, most courts offer these forms online.

If granted, law enforcement locates the party accused of wrongdoing and provides him or her with a copy of the order. Once served, the respondent must abide by the conditions included. This remains in effect until the court holds a hearing for a permanent protection order. In some states, the police can give the victim an emergency order.

In some examples of Order of Protection hearings, the judge does not find the victim in immediate or present danger. In these situations, the judge issues a hearing notice. At the hearing, a judge will determine whether to issue a permanent order. Until the hearing, the accused must follow the court-ordered restrictions.

Burden of Proof

In all examples of Order of Protection hearings, the victim carries the burden of proof. This means that they must show the judge that the perpetrator has harmed or may harm them or their children. It may involve presenting testimony of the abuse, the testimony of witnesses, police reports, documents, and photos. If the burden of proof is met, the judge will sign the order making it in effect for a specified period of time – usually one year. It will list the conditions the respondent must follow and specify how long it remains in effect.

As an example of an order of protection hearing, if the victim fails to appear, the judge dismisses the case. If the respondent fails to appear, the judge typically grants the order.

What is a Mutual Order of Protection

If both parties file for a protective order, the judge may issue a mutual Order of Protection. If this occurs, both parties must follow the provisions in the order. These provisions can contain anything that the judge finds appropriate for the situations. Mutual Order of Protection examples include:

  • Ordering both parties to refrain from contacting each other
  • Requiring the parties to keep a certain amount of distance between them
  • Mandating that both parties participate in counseling

Domestic Violence Order of Protection

Domestic violence victims have legal options for protecting themselves from continued abuse. This includes a Domestic Violence Order of Protection, also known as a domestic violence restraining order or “DVRO.”

The order prohibits the abuser from engaging in certain types of behaviors. It also allows the court to impose punishment if the abuser violates those conditions. The punishments can range from fines to imprisonment, depending on the circumstances of the violation.

The following are Order of Protection examples of requirements a victim must meet.

1. The perpetrator and victim must fit into one of the following categories:

  • Spouse or former spouse
  • Current or former dating partner
  • Have a child together
  • Current or former roommate
  • Parent, child, in-laws, step-parent, stepchild, or other blood relatives

2. One or more of the following must have taken place:

  • The perpetrator physically abused the victim
  • The perpetrator stalked or sexually assaulted the victim
  • The perpetrator gave the victim reason to fear for his or her safety or life
  • The perpetrator shows a pattern of harassment, including interfering with the victim’s employment

Provisions of a DVRO

Each state has statues addressing the conditions of a protection order. Typically, the provisions included depend on the circumstances of the case. Order of Protection examples of provisions include:

  • No Contact – Prohibits the abuser from contacting the victim in person, over the phone, via postal mail, or over the internet.
  • Peaceful Contact – Allows for limited communication for specified purposes only (such as for decisions regarding mutual children).
  • Stay Away – Mandates the abuser keep a specified amount of distance away from the victim at all times. This ranges anywhere from 100 ft. to 100 yards.
  • Move Out – Orders the abuser to permanently move out of the home.
  • No Firearms – Requires abuser to surrender any and all firearms to law enforcement for the duration of the restraining order.
  • Counseling – Requires abuser to participate in counseling or anger management.

Order of Protection Example in Out of State Abusers

In 2016, Megan Parocha petitioned the court for a protection order against her husband, Richard. At the hearing, she claimed her husband had physically abused her on multiple occasions. Earlier that year, she relocated from New Jersey to Colorado because of the abuse.

Her husband had agreed to let her go for three months. During that time, he contacted her daily. At the end of the three months, Megan told him she wanted to stay in Colorado. She claims he then contacted her via FaceTime, emails, and text and said he would “make” her come back. She took this as a threat and applied for a protective order in Colorado.

Long-Arm Statute

The court approved the protection order. The judge stated that Megan’s husband’s frequent contacts after her move were part of the pattern of domestic abuse. This gave the court personal jurisdiction on Richard Parocha under the long-arm statute. This statute allows the courts to exercise jurisdiction on nonresidents guilty of “tortious acts,” including domestic violence.

Richard Parocha appealed to the Boulder District Court, which vacated the order. The court claimed that Colorado did not have the right to exercise personal jurisdiction since Parocha was a nonresident. The case went before the Colorado Supreme Court, which ruled that the husband’s conduct qualified as a tortious act worthy of protection. This allowed the court to establish personal jurisdiction under the state’s long-arm statute.

Related Legal Terms and Issues

  • Defendant – A party who is the target of a lawsuit in civil court, or who stands accused of, or charged with, a crime or offense.
  • Domestic Violence – Violent, abusive, threatening, or coercive behavior within the home, typically inflicted by one family or household member on another.
  • Evidence – Information presented to a court or jury in proof of the facts, including testimony of witnesses, records, documents, or objects.
  • Ex Parte – An action in a legal proceeding brought about by one party, without the participation or presence of the opposition.
  • Harassment – The act of harassing, disturbing, or persecuting someone.
  • Hearing – A proceeding in which the court hears an issue of fact or law by hearing evidence and testimony presented, and then makes a decision.
  • Jurisdiction – The legal authority to hear legal cases and make judgments; the geographical region of authority to enforce justice.
  • Statute – A written law passed by a legislature on the state or federal level.
  • Victim – A person who is injured, killed, or otherwise harmed as a result of a criminal act, accident, or other event.

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