If you’ve been involved in a domestic violence situation, seek help immediately. After receiving medical care, you can focus on your legal options. It is essential to know the law’s fundamentals and where to turn when support is desperately needed.
What are protective orders?
A judge issues you a protective order to protect you in cases of abuse or harassment. You can get one if you are married, separated, cohabiting or are in a dating relationship. You can apply for your protective order at your local district attorney’s office.
The staff will give you paperwork to complete. You will want to complete the questionnaire about the relationship. You must demonstrate 2 facts about your relationship to obtain a protective order: Has domestic violence recently occurred? How likely will domestic violence occur again in the future?
Other questions include:
- What is the history of violence?
- Are there any police reports?
- Are you scared?
Present all your evidence—phone calls, text messages, pictures, recordings, witnesses, medical evidence, weapons and your personal testimony. Evidence of previous domestic violence has a time limit of 2 years.
For a regular protective order, you will receive a hearing in 2 weeks. At the hearing, you will want to present all your evidence and bring witnesses.
Temporary ex parte order
In instances of grave danger, you can’t wait 2 weeks for your protective order hearing and you need emergency protection.
The temporary ex parte order essentially means that you can get emergency protection without waiting for your hearing date. To get this order, you will need to meet with the judge. In order to have this meeting, you will need an attorney.
The district attorney’s office, on some occasions, may represent you without a fee. However, they will not represent you if you are involved in a criminal or child protective services case.
On the other hand, you may want to retain a private family law attorney. Local legal aid groups are available for those on a limited budget. Typically, the temporary ex parte order is good for 20 days. An attorney can apply for another extension with the courts, as necessary.
Permanent protective order
At the hearing, the judge will decide whether to grant your permanent protective order. Minor children can be included in the order.
Permanent protective orders have a 2-year time limit. However, in extreme instances of harm or abuse, your attorney can extend it. Keep in mind the perpetrator can apply to have the protective order dismissed after 1 year.
Upon approval, the judge can limit the perpetrator from contacting you at home, school, work, your children’s daycare or on the streets. Just by chance, if you meet the perpetrator on the road or at the store, the perpetrator must stay at least 500 yards away from you. The judge can extend the distance of contact at their discretion.
There are massive consequences if the perpetrator violates the term of the protective order. Punishments include getting a misdemeanor, a felony or incarceration. Perpetrators are also prohibited from carrying firearms with a protective order.
Magistrate’s order of protection
When an abuser has been arrested for physical violence, child abuse, sexual abuse or human trafficking, the courts will issue this protective order on your behalf. The magistrate’s order of protection (MOEP) is active for 31 to 61 days.
If the perpetrator used a weapon to commit a crime, the magistrate’s order of protection will be valid for 61 to 91 days. After you have received your MOEP, go ahead and apply for your permanent protective order.