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Protective Order FAQs

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What is a protective order?

A protective order is a civil court order issued to prevent continuing acts of family violence or dating violence.

Protective order legislation was developed to protect and preserve people and includes both criminally enforceable and civilly enforceable provisions.

The main objective of a protective order is to stop violence and to protect a person who is being abused by a member or former member of the same household, extended family relationships, or of a dating relationship.

Who is entitled to protection?

In order to apply for a protective order, the applicant must be:

  • A person who is related to the offender by blood or marriage (including a former spouse).
  • A person who is currently living in the same household as the offender, or has lived in the same household as the offender at some point in the past.
  • A person who has had a child with the offender (including foster children).
  • A person who has or has had a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the offender.
  • A person who has or has had a marriage or dating relationship with a person who is or has been in a marriage or dating relationship with the offender.

Who can file for a protective order?

  • An adult family member on behalf of themselves or on behalf of another member of the family or household.
  • A member of the dating relationship, regardless of whether the member is an adult or a child.
  • Any adult on behalf of a child.
  • Any prosecuting attorney.
  • The Department of Protective and Regulatory Services (DPRS).

What can a protective order do?

A protective order may prohibit the offender from committing the following: -

  • Criminally enforceable acts.
  • Committing family violence.
  • Committing dating violence.
  • Communicating directly with a person protected by an order or a member of the family or household of a person protected by an order, in a threatening or harassing manner.
  • Communicating a threat through any person to a person protected by an order or a member of the family or household of a person protected by an order.
  • Going to or near the residence or place of employment or business of a person protected by an order or a member of the family or household of a person protected by an order.
  • Going to or near the residence, child-care facility, or school of a child protected under the order normally attends or in which the child normally resides.
  • Engaging in conduct directed specifically toward a person who is a person protected by an order or a member of the family or household of a person protected by an order, including following the person, that is likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, or embarrass the person.
  • Possessing a firearm.

What must the application include?

  1. The name and county of residence of each applicant.
  2. The name, address and county of residence of each person alleged to have committed family violence or dating violence.
  3. The relationship between the applicant(s) and the offender(s).
  4. A request for a protective order.

Where can a protective order be filed?

A protective order can be filed in the county where the applicant resides or in the county where the offender resides. An applicant can apply for a protective order through the county attorney or a private attorney.

What are the costs?

No fees may be assessed against an applicant for a protective order or a prosecutor representing an applicant for a protective order. If an individual is found to have committed family violence, they will be ordered to pay the costs, except on a showing of good cause or indigence.

How long does it take to receive a protective order and how long is it in effect?

A hearing for the protective order must be held within 14 days of the application, unless the applicant requests a later date or the population of the county is greater than 1.5 million. An individual can request a temporary ex parte protective order at the time of application for the final protective order. The temporary ex parte order is valid for 20 days and is not criminally enforceable unless the temporary ex parte order has been served on the person. The final protective order is good for up to two years, and under certain circumstances can be extended for an additional year. If the court finds that the offender caused serious bodily injury to Applicant or if the court finds that Applicant has had two or more previous Protective Orders against the offender, the Protective Order may be for a period of more than 2 years (effective 9/1/2011).

What is a Magistrate’s Order for Emergency Protection?

The Magistrate’s Order for Emergency Protection (MOEP) is issued at the time of an arrest for an offense involving family violence or stalking. The order may be issued on the magistrate’s own motion or on the request of: - the victim of the offense; - the guardian of the victim; - a peace officer; or - the attorney representing the state. A MOEP must be issued if an offender is arrested for aggravated assault against a family member. These are offenses that involve serious bodily injury or the use or exhibition of a deadly weapon during the commission of the assault. The MOEP contains the same criminally enforceable provision as a protective order.

What if the protective order is violated?

CALL THE POLICE!

Law enforcement agencies should have a list of the protective orders issued in their area. If an offender violates the order, notify law enforcement so they can act to arrest the offender and seek to have charges filed. If a person violates the order in the presence of law enforcement, the offender must be arrested immediately. If a protective order or magistrate’s order is violated the offender may be punished by a fine not to exceed $4,000 and/or jail for up to one year. If a person has been previously convicted of violating a protective order or magistrate’s order two or more times, or has violated the order by committing an assault or stalking the offender may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000 and/or imprisonment for two to ten years. A victim should apply for a Protective Order as soon after the incident as possible.