Protective Orders

A protective order is a legal order that’s intended to help protect the health, well-being, and safety of those abused by others, including the victims’ family members and members of their households. People who are subjected to acts of violence or force that lead to injury or who are subjected to threats that lead to reasonable fear of injury, sexual assault, or death are eligible for protective orders (POs). If you believe you may need a protective order, don’t wait to address the matter with an experienced family law attorney – serving Virginia and the DC metropolitan area.  

Types of Restraining Orders

Protective orders are also called restraining orders, and there are several basic types.

Temporary Restraining Orders

A temporary restraining order or preliminary protective order (PPO) can only be issued by a judge, and they are based on the sworn statements of the individuals who seek them. You don’t have to obtain an emergency protective order to obtain a temporary restraining order, and the accused doesn’t need to be at the hearing. These temporary orders last 15 days or until the date of the final protective order hearing, which will be included in the PPO.   

Permanent Restraining Orders

A judge can ultimately grant a permanent restraining order that can last up to two years – with limitless extensions that can be made in two-year intervals available. The permanent restraining order hearing will be scheduled at the time your temporary restraining order is granted, and both parties are required to attend.

Emergency Restraining Orders

Emergency restraining orders are often petitioned by attending officers when they have probable cause to believe there is a risk of further violence. The victim, however, can also do the petitioning – even if there wasn’t an arrest involved. Emergency restraining orders last 72 hours or until the next court session – whichever comes later.

Civil Restraining Orders

Restraining orders are civil matters – not criminal matters – which means the victim doesn’t have to press charges in order to obtain an order. They can, however, do both.  

Criminal Restraining Orders

While restraining orders are civil matters, it is a crime to violate certain conditions contained within, including:

  • Refraining from contacting the named victim
  • Refraining from harassing the named victim
  • Refraining from abusing the named victim

Legal Process for Obtaining a Restraining Order

In order to obtain a restraining order against someone, you’ll need to follow the legal process.

Filing a Petition

To begin, you will need to file a petition for a restraining order, which law enforcement will serve on the person named. While you can find the appropriate forms online, having focused legal guidance on your side is always advised.

Serving the Respondent

The respondent is the person whom you’ve named in the restraining order. Qualifying relationships include:

  • Your spouse, your former spouse, or a spouse you are separated from
  • Someone to whom you are related by blood, marriage, or adoption
  • A romantic partner with whom you lived during a portion of the past year
  • Someone with whom you had a sexual relationship during a portion of the past year
  • Someone with whom you share a child

You’ll need to have the respondent served with the petition you’ve filed, which generally means service by the police.

Attending a Hearing

Your petition will generate a hearing, and unless you seek an emergency or temporary restraining order, the respondent will also be required to attend.

Factors Considered by the Court

The kinds of factors the court takes into consideration in relation to resulting court orders include all the following:

  • The relationship that exists between you and the respondent
  • The length of your relationship
  • The history of domestic violence or abuse and its severity in the relationship between the two of you
  • The risk to your personal safety
  • The level of legal protection needed

Duration of Restraining Orders

The duration of the restraining order depends upon its kind. Consider the following:

  • Emergency restraining orders last 72 hours or until the next court session.
  • Temporary restraining orders last 15 days or until the date of the final hearing.
  • Permanent restraining orders can last up to two years – with two-year extensions available.

Violations of Restraining Orders

The violation of certain aspects of restraining orders is a crime. If the respondent is convicted of violating the restraining order in this capacity, they can face jail time – along with a new restraining order being issued.

The Violation

If the violation itself is a crime, such as an assault, the respondent will face not only the restraining order violation charge but also the assault charge.

In other instances, however, the violation may go against the no-contact order, which can amount to simply a call, text, or another form of electronic message. While the act in and of itself isn’t illegal, the fact that it’s in violation of the restraining order can lead to criminal charges.

The Legal Consequences

The consequences of violating a restraining order can mean jail time. And any aggravating factors can enhance the penalties faced. While the charges levied are generally misdemeanors, repeat offenders or those who engage in serious violations can face felony charges.

Legal Remedies

In certain situations, the victims of domestic violence are eligible for legal remedies in response to the physical harm they’ve suffered. These remedies can include related medical expenses, loss of earnings, and beyond.

Call a Protective Order Attorney Today

If you’re facing the kind of situation in which a protective order is called for, it’s a serious matter that you shouldn’t ignore or downplay. Your safety and well-being are paramount, and the trusted family law attorneys at Bourdon & Tortolero – serving Virginia and the DC area – recognize the complexities of your circumstances and welcome the opportunity to help. Our legal team has an impressive track record of successfully guiding matters like yours toward advantageous outcomes, so please don’t hesitate to reach out and contact or call us at 703-646-8390 for more information today.

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