If you or your minor children have been the victim of an assault, abuse, harassment, or a threat of violence, you likely have a right to seek a peace or protective order for either yourself or your minor children. Knowing how to navigate the process is incredibly important and could cause you problems if you’re not prepared.
If the individual who committed one of the above acts against you or your minor children is a spouse, family member, significant other, or co-parent, you have a right to request a protective order. If the individual does not fall into one of those categories, then you need to request a peace order.
Regardless of if you need to request a peace or protective order, the process is nearly identical. The stages of a peace or protective order are as follows:
Interim Order – Most District Courthouses or Commissioner’s stations are open 24/7. But Judges are only there from 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM, Monday - Friday. If you come after normal business hours, you’ll fill out the Petition, making sure to include every detail about the instances of assault, abuse, threats, etc. that you or your minor child has been a victim of. If the Commissioner determines that “Reasonable Grounds” exist, your Interim Order will be granted. The Interim Order only lasts until the next day that Courts are open. On that day, you’ll move on to step two.
Temporary Order – Once the Courthouse reopens, you’ll need to come back to speak to a Judge. You can avoid step one entirely just by showing up during normal business hours to file your initial request. If you do that, you’ll go straight to a Judge after you finalize your paperwork. The Judge is able to hear your evidence or your story and make a determination if “Reasonable Grounds” exist to grant a Temporary Order. The Temporary Order typically lasts for at least one week. While an attorney can be helpful at all stages of this process, the week-long Order is designed to let people get their ducks in a row. That means compiling your evidence, making plans for your witnesses to appear, and hiring an attorney. Don’t waste this time!
Final Order – the Final Hearing will be scheduled usually one week after the Temporary Order. At the Final Hearing you’ll have to convince a Judge that it is more likely than not that you were the victim of an assault, threat, abuse, harassment, etc. This is a difficult burden of proof to satisfy and having an attorney can make or break your case.
If you win your case, you could be eligible for the following relief which typically is ordered to be in place for six months for a peace order, and one year for a protective order:
Stay Away Order
No Contact Order
Temporary Award of Custody
Emergency Family Maintenance
Use and Possession of Residence
Use and Possession of Vehicles
If someone is seeking a peace or protective order against you, it’s time to get serious, buckle down, and get ready to defend against the allegations. Peace or protective orders can have long lasting consequences if one is granted against you. While peace and protective orders are civil in nature, it’s worth bearing in mind that most people who seek peace and protective orders are accusing the other side of a crime (even though charges may or may not be filed). Regardless, criminal liability must always be a concern.
The most important decision that all individuals who are facing a peace or protective order must make is if they want to consent to the order, or fight it. Consenting, means that the Judge will make no findings or rulings as to whether or not the allegations are true, they will simply pass an order saying that you agree to stay away from the person seeking the order. If you do this, once the order expires, it can be removed (shielded) from public records. If you decide to fight the order, and lose, the record can never be taken down from your public records. A peace or protective order against you can have wide sweeping negative consequences. It could affect your employment, educational, or housing prospects. It could also impact any custody case pending.
Whether you’re seeking or defending against a peace or protective order, having the right attorney can make all the difference. Don’t go into Court without an experienced peace and protective order attorney on your side. Call Bradley Shepherd at BSS Law, LLC for a free consultation.