How to get an order of protection against an abuser?

In the present situation of the US, there is an upsurge in harassment, physical abuse, and stalking cases in different states. Dozens of well-known Americans have been accused of sexual misconduct of some type. If you or your loved ones face sexual abuse, harassment, physical abuse, violence, stalking, the threat of kidnapping, or any other criminal act, it’s high time to contact your local court and obtain an order of protection.

An order of protection is a court order which elaborates about what he/she cannot do to another person, or what is permitted. Violation of such order by the alleged individual can eventually lead him to confinement and other legal penalties.

Order of protection can also be obtained from the Supreme Court, but this court generally issues an order of protection only if there’s a divorce petition already filed in family court and you are under the threat of your spouse. Victims of domestic violence can also seek restraining orders that cover certain relationships and provide immediate protections from future abuse.

Here, you will get to know about how to get an order of protection and what’s the difference between an order of protection and a restraining order.

Order of protection from a civil court

Order of protection offers an opportunity to seek assistance from civil legal and criminal justice systems. Although protection orders can be obtained from the civil court, they are enforced through the criminal justice system. In the US, the criminal justice system often intervenes in cases such as Intimate partner violence (IPV).

Victims of domestic violence can seek several criminal and civil protections and restraining orders from future abusive actions. Survivors can also obtain an order of protection even if the act was done in the past, it does not necessarily have to happen in the present or at the time when you seek an order of protection.

Hence, past acts can be the reasons for having an order to protect you from future abuses, however, you should seek the order closure to the action you have made a complaint about.

Depending on your case, the court may issue any of these orders to protect you or your children from future abuse:

  • Restraining Orders
  • Emergency Protection orders

All 50 states of the US along with the District of Columbia follow statutes against the form of protection orders. However, every state has a different name for protection orders. A protection order is quite different from an emergency protection order in terms of its duration. Generally, a protection order is issued from one to five years based on the circumstances that a victim had a complaint. After a certain period, if the victim still feels threatened by the abuser, the order can be renewed for another round of five years.

Restraining orders

As the name suggests, a restraining order restrains the parties from contacting and ceasing certain things. The restraining orders can be obtained from the civil court and it needs a lawsuit to issue such orders like divorce or any other civil case.

It is also granted if an ex parte is a temporary order granted and the judge believes that there is present or immediate danger of abuse to you.

Restraining orders can be requested as ex parte, which means that one party can request the court to do specific things without informing the other party. In cases, where the ex parte restraining order is granted, then the other party can request a hearing to present the other side of the story.

Emergency protection orders

Most states permit the police to request/ask one of the two spouses to leave the place when they encounter a domestic abuse situation. Or if the abuser is arrested after domestic violence, the court provides the victim with EPO (emergency protection order) to request a motion for a protection order for 1-5 years.

How to get an order of protection

If your relationship with your intimate partner does not fit the definition of legal spouses, and your children’s or your life is in danger while living with the abuser, then you should seek an order of protection adhering to the steps listed below. The steps will guide you through getting an order of protection.

Step # 1: File the petition

You can file the petition for obtaining an order of protection at the family court of the country or state your spouse lives or where the offense had taken place. Based on your residence, you can have the option to file the petition electronically as well.  

Step # 2: Fill out the forms

The petition that you have filed in the family court is known as the ‘family offense petition’. Fill out the petition thoughtfully. You will be acting as petitioner and the alleged individual will be pronounced as respondent. You can ask the court clerk or a domestic violence attorney of the court to help you in filling out the forms.

Step # 3: File the forms for order of protection

There’s no filing fee for the form submission. Hand over your form to the court clerk. Bring valid information to file the forms i.e. photographs of your abuser, phone numbers, and current address, license plate, valid ID and criminal history, records of violence, gun ownership, or drugs.

What happens when you file the petition?

The petition will then be served to your abuser and the date for a hearing will be scheduled. The date will be scheduled within 15 days of the filing of your petition. On hearing, the judge will testify to the petitioner and the respondent where you have to prove that the accused has abused you or your children and you want to make your family protected through the protection order. The judge will then decide whether to grant you the order or not.

You must attend the hearing, in case you missed it, the petition will expire and you have to start the process all over again. If you receive your order of protection but need amendments, you can visit your local clerk’s office and request to file a motion to modify the order. You must attach the existing order.

Restraining VS Protection order

The primary difference between a restraining and protection order is, when a victim seeks an order of protection, the court provides him or her with emergency protection. However, it remains valid for one or two weeks until the victim gets the protection order for one to five years, depending on the case and state statutes. But on a violation, the court may imprison the abuser for a week.

On the other hand, in restraining order, the court may order the abuser to terminate every kind of contact and interaction with the victim. This includes every medium like emails, text messages, phone calls, forms of communications including third-party apps like social media interactions, etc. A restraining order is issued to protect the victim immediately from the abuser.

Get professional help to protect yourself from imminent dangers

Not a single person should face domestic violence. If your conditions are pulling you or your children into imminent dangers, contact law enforcement without getting a second thought. It’s always better to consult a domestic violence attorney who can work on your behalf to file the petitions and advocate for you in court.

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