One of the most shameful acts that still persist in our society today is domestic or family violence. Generally, violence is severely frowned upon, but the prospect of causing physical harm, resulting in lasting damage to your own family or loved ones makes domestic violence more appalling. If you or someone you know is a current or potential victim of domestic violence, filing for a protection order could protect you from the dangers of being physically or even sexually harmed.
What is a Protection Order?
A protection order is a court issued injunction designed to check domestic violence. The person whom you’re filing the protection order against must have committed or threatened to commit an act of domestic violence within the last year.
The filing process is quite straightforward. If you believe you’re a victim of family violence, you can simply submit a petition through an attorney to any court for the issuance of an order of protection. Usually, the application is filed in the region where you or the offender resides. After completing the formalities, you will be scheduled before a judge who will evaluate your petition and either approve or refuse the order.
Are you eligible for being granted a protection order? Well here’s what the law says: “If the court finds that family violence has occurred and is likely to occur again, a court shall render a protective order. To obtain a protective order, the victim and the offender must be (1) related by blood or marriage, (2) living together, or previously lived together, or (3) have a child together’. If you meet one or all of these conditions then go ahead and file that petition.
You must provide these important details when filing for a protection order for your application to be considered:
- The name(s) and current residential location of the applicant(s)
- The name and current residential location of the offender
- The existing relationship between the victim(s) and the offender
- If other incidents of family violence have occurred
The victim should file as soon as the violence occurs. They may not survive the next one.
The Cost considerations
Thankfully, there is no longer a fee for filing against domestic violence offenders. But it is not completely free; you still have to make arrangements for attorney fees, serving fees, modification costs or any other required expense. These amounts may be overlooked in certain circumstances. After all, lack of money should not keep you from filing a petition if you feel you are in danger.
Nullifying a protection order
Applications can be made to adjust the protection order or even dismiss it totally. In such instances, the procedure is governed by this clause: “The defendant may file a petition to request that the order be modified or dismissed. If your order of protection gives you exclusive right to your home, the hearing will be scheduled within five (5) court days of the defendant’s request. If you do not have an exclusive right to your home, the hearing will be scheduled within ten (10) court days. If you have a pending family law related action in Superior Court, the hearing will be held in Superior Court”. Usually your appointed attorney should worry about this on your behalf, let them handle it.
The effectiveness of a protection order
A protective order not only prohibits an offender from committing further acts of family violence, it also protects you from direct or indirect threats, and may prohibit transfer or disposal of property. In certain situations, the protection order may also mandate the offender to participate in court approved counseling or vacate the premises of the victim.
Enforcing the order
Today, filing is done electronically so all approved protection orders are easily accessible to law enforcement agents. Federal law states that a valid protection order is enforceable anywhere in the U.S. Therefore, if an offender stalks you in another location, the police are obligated to uphold the protection order regardless. This includes identifying the protected person, the details regarding the offender, and other important details.
Violation of the order
The police are regularly updated with protection orders issued in their area and they often keep the list of such orders. If there is an order violation, they are notified about it. The agents can arrest the offender and file charges accordingly.
So remember, if you feel threatened or the person you filed against violates their order, alert the police immediately. Even if you are not qualified for a protection order, you may be able to have the person booked for stalking or trespassing with criminal intent. Also, learn to protect yourself physically; a protection order is a piece of paper, it will not shield you completely from all other forms of violence.