Andre A. Hakes – Criminal Defense, Sex Crimes & DUI Attorney
Leila B. Higgins-Fleishman – Criminal Defense & Traffic Attorney
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Protective orders are civil petitions with criminal implications. Any person can seek a protective order against any other person for violence, force, or threat, but they are most commonly pursued in a family context. A law enforcement officer can even seek a 72-hour emergency protective order against the wishes of the protected family member. Protective orders are also very easy to get in some jurisdictions, with many judges preferring to err on the side of issuing them than risk violence being committed against a petitioner.
The actions giving rise to a protective order almost always constitute some form of criminal conduct, and protective orders frequently go hand in hand with criminal charges. The initial petition for a protective order is held without any notice to the person who it will be served on (the respondent), and there is no right to court appointed counsel for an adult respondent. Violation of a protective order is a criminal act, and can be surprisingly easy to commit.
Once you have been served with a protective order, it is very important to follow the restrictions to the letter. When in doubt, err on the side of absolutely no contact with anyone named in the order. Ordinarily, a preliminary protective order is issued for two weeks, pending a hearing on a permanent protective order, which can last for up to two years. You will have the chance to defend against the permanent protective order, but usually you will have no notice at all of the preliminary protective order. In issuing a protective order, a judge can require that you, among other things:
Being served with a protective order can result in a massive life change without any warning to you. Many people will unintentionally violate a protective order they just received by texting their spouse to arrange to pick up some clothes or medication. Additionally, there is nothing in the law preventing the petitioner from calling you or texting you, but if you reply, or answer the phone, you may be convicted of violating a protective order requiring no contact. It is very important that you make sure you fully understand the restrictions placed on you by a protective order before making any attempt to retrieve your possessions or put your affairs in order. Even asking a friend or family member to arrange for you to get medication from your home may be a violation of the protective order.
An attorney can advise you on your options, what restrictions are in place, your chance of success in defending against the order, and work with the court and law enforcement to retrieve your possessions and help you find stability while awaiting the permanent protective order hearing. An attorney may also be able to advocate for you and convince the judge to limit the restrictions in a permanent protective order to reduce its impact on your life.
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