What is a protective order?
A protective order is a civil order from a judge that tells the perpetrator that they must:
- not abuse, harass, or disturb the peace of the victim or any member of the victim's household, in any place, public or private;
- not contact the victim or any member of the victim's household, directly or indirectly;
- not enter the property of the victim; and
- not destroy any of the victim's property.
What happens if the perpetrator violates the protective order?
The violation of a protective order may result in the respondent’s arrest for violation of the protective order and/or additional crimes, such as stalking or property damage. The violation of a protective order may also constitute contempt of court.
What are the advantages of protective orders?
- Increased Police Responsiveness: Protective orders enable police to intervene before violence occurs, rather than after.
- Speedy Remedy: Protective order proceedings can provide relief more quickly than the criminal system. Protective orders require a lower burden of proof found in a civil proceeding, rather than requiring a criminal conviction. Emergency protective orders can be issued ex parte, meaning without a hearing, based solely on the sworn statement of the victim.
- Comprehensive Relief: Civil protective orders may provide more complete relief than the criminal system can. Some victims can petition for custody, spousal maintenance and child support, counseling, and eviction of the perpetrator from the home, all in the context of a protective order. Under certain circumstances, clients can petition the court to order the perpetrator to surrender any firearms they own.
- No Cost: There is no fee for filing and obtaining a protective order.
What are the advantages of getting help through POP?
- Response Time: POP volunteers check voicemails during office hours every weekday. Our law student volunteers will make every effort to provide you with courteous and reasonably prompt responses to your questions and requests.
- Preparing for a Hearing and Representation: If we are able to take your case and the court has or does set a hearing, then we will do our best to find you a volunteer attorney. Because of the short notice on which hearings are often set, though, we cannot guarantee to find you an attorney in time. If we are not able to find you an attorney, we will still help you prepare for the hearing as much as we can. If you have other free or low-cost legal help, you may want to continue those efforts while we search for a volunteer attorney for you.
- Team of Competent and Dedicated Advocates: At least three student volunteers, who have received special training in protective order law, and a volunteer attorney from the community are assigned to each client. POP is a volunteer organization, which means that its representatives are genuinely interested in helping clients to protect themselves and better their lives. Volunteers are available to answer clients' questions and explain the legal system, which can be confusing and intimidating to many people.
- Understanding: POP volunteers receive special training on domestic violence and many have experience working with victims of domestic violence, so they are sensitive to the unique challenges faced by many clients.
- Confidentiality: POP will treat all information that you give during an intake or at any later point as strictly confidential. POP will not share your information with anyone except as required in your legal papers, which you will review before they are filed with the court; as ordered by a judge; as otherwise required by law; or as you authorize us to share.