Orders of Protection

An Order of Protection, more commonly know as a Protective Order, is a legal document signed by a judge that orders someone to not commit family violence against another person. The order might also specify how close an abuser can come to the victim’s residence or place of employment. Some facts you might need to know about Orders of Protection include:

  • An abuser is someone who has committed family violence against another person and who meets the relationship requirement. A victim is the person who was abused.
  • You must meet the relationship requirements in order to file for an Order of Protection. Relationships include persons who are married, have lived together, had a child together, are divorced, had a dating relationship, or are related by blood or marriage. This also includes foster parent and child.
  • Orders of Protection remain in effect until they expire or are terminated by a judge. Victims cannot just decide they don’t want the protection any more or that everything is all right now. Abusers are in violation of the Order and can be arrested even if you give him/her permission to violate the Order.
  • You can request the Order to be changed if your situation changes, if the situation gets worse or if you decide to reconcile your relationship, but only the judge can make the change.
  • Keep a copy of the Order with you at all times and make sure there is a copy on file at the local Police Department. It is usually printed on very delicate paper. Keep it in a freezer zipper bag to help keep it from tearing and keep additional copies in a safe place at home.
  • If there is a violation, call the police immediately. You will need to file a report and you might need to go back to court.
  • Orders of Protection are free and usually take several weeks to obtain and they are usually good for 2 years. Emergency Orders can sometimes be obtained in several days. Your local District Attorney’s Office can help you.
  • An Order of Protection is a piece of paper. Abusers can violate the order. It is your responsibility to be cautious and remain alert regarding your surroundings. Use common sense and listen to your gut instinct. Call the police if you feel unsafe.
  • Violating an Order of Protection can result in jail time and/or fines.

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