Protective orders, also called restraining orders, can be confusing, especially when you are in the middle of a very stressful situation. Mr. Harold is experienced with helping clients who are responding to or seeking protective orders against family members or other individuals. When handling such matters, Mr. Harold often works with your family law firm to achieve the best possible result.

In 2011, the Virginia General Assembly enacted legislation that made a number of changes to the current protective order system. The legislative changes affect all facets of the protective order process: who may obtain protective orders, how courts issue protective orders, how the orders are enforced against the alleged abusers and how violations of the orders are prosecuted. The Harold Law Firm remains current on all the recent changes and can help you make sense of domestic and other protective orders.

As a result of the recent legislative changes:

  • Protective orders are available to a wider class of victims for a wider range of threatening or violent conduct; they are no longer limited to victims of family abuse or to victims of specified criminal acts (stalking, sexual battery, aggravated sexual battery or crimes resulting in serious bodily injury).
  • The conduct or behavior requirements for obtaining family abuse protective orders are consistent with those for obtaining protective orders where there is no family or household relationship between the parties.
  • The penalties for violating family abuse protective orders and protective orders are more consistent.

A protective order, whether an Emergency Protective Order (valid for 72 hours), Preliminary Protective Order (valid for up to 15 days) or a Permanent Protective Order (valid for up to two years), is an order issued by a judge or magistrate that prohibits one person from harassing, threatening, committing family or physical abuse, contacting or even being in proximity to another person—regardless of familial relationship.

Often issued in the context of some type a domestic assault and battery charge or domestic disturbance, the protective order is usually preceded by the 72-hour Emergency Protective Order that serves to protect the person until a Preliminary Protective order is granted. The Preliminary Protective Order can be granted Ex Parte (based on only the petitioner’s version of the facts) or sometimes after a full hearing. Virginia Law requires that the Permanent Protective Order hearing be held within 15 days. It can also be granted if the respondent fails to attend court.

A Protective Order can:

  • Legally order the abuser to stop abusive or threatening behavior
  • Prohibit the abuser from contacting an individual at home, at work or by phone
  • Order the abusive person removed from the home you share with him/her
  • Grant temporary custody and visitation of the children
  • Require the abuser to pay for you and the children to live in another house
  • Grant exclusive possession, but not title, of the home and/or jointly owned car to you
  • Require the abuser to go to treatment or counseling
  • Provide other relief necessary for your protection.

The Petitioner can ask the court for all of the above along with requesting the Respondent to pay for attorney’s fees. The court also has the authority to make the Petitioner pay the attorney’s fees of the Respondent, regardless of who wins the case.

Federal law requires all states to enforce protective orders issued by other states.

Being subject to a protective order can have devastating effects on the Respondent’s life and family, including:

  • granting no visitation and/or custody of minor children
  • child support
  • limit employment opportunities and even cause termination
  • requiring the Respondent to turn in concealed weapon permit(s)
  • limit, if not, outright ban the possession of certain firearms, which can affect safety and employment .

In Virginia, the court can also grant a protective order when stalking, sexual battery and acts of violence are alleged.

If the terms of a protective order are violated, an individual can be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor, which can lead to a 12-month jail sentence and up to a $2,500 fine. A conviction for violating a protective order will mandate an active jail sentence. In other words, someone who is convicted of violating a protective order must go to jail.

There are many nuances to the various types of protective orders and the limitations that accompany them. If you have questions about protective orders, contact the Harold Law Firm. Mr. Harold can help you understand your rights and discuss various options for your specific situation.