Order Of Protection Survivor Advocacy Center

Order of Protection

What is an order of protection?

An order of protection is issued by the court to limit the behavior of someone who harms or threatens to harm another person. It is used to address various types of safety issues, including, but not limited to situations involving domestic violence. Family Courts, criminal courts, and Supreme Courts can all issue orders of protection.

An order of protection may direct the offending person not to injure, threaten or harass you, your family, or any other person(s) listed in the order.

It may include, but is not limited to, directing them to:

  • Stay away from the protected party
  • Move out of the protected party’s home
  • Not to commit acts that would be harmful to the protected party
  • To return important documents to the protected party
  • To surrender firearms
  • Or, anything else that is required to further the purposes of protecting the petitioner and children

Types of Orders

  • Stay-away or full orders: the parties must “stay away” and have no contact directly or through third parties
  • Refrain from or limited orders: the parties can have contact but must refrain from committing family offenses or criminal offenses (like harassing, assault, stalking, etc.).

Examples of a family offense are:

  • Disorderly conduct
  • Harassment
  • Assault
  • Sexual abuse
  • Menacing
  • Reckless endangerment
  • Strangulation
  • Stalking
  • Criminal mischief

How can I get an Order of Protection?

Family Court

Family Court judges can issue an order of protection if a family offense is committed by someone:

  • You are related by blood or marriage
  • You are or were legally married
  • You have a child in common
  • You are or were in an intimate relationship (not casual, social, or business acquaintances).

Requests for an order of protection through Family Court are submitted to the Family Court Clerk’s office. A SACFL advocate can guide you through this process, but you can also file alone. The process is similar for custody, visitation, and child support. 

If there is good cause, the judge will issue a temporary order of protection. There will be a future court date to determine if the order of protection will remain in place. Both parties must be at this future court date.

The other person must be served with the order of protection by police for it to be valid.

Criminal Court

If the abusive partner was arrested, a judge can issue an order of protection during arraignment. This order will be temporary until the case is resolved. A “final” order of protection may be granted as a part of a plea deal or sentencing.

Supreme Court

A Supreme Court judge can issue an order of protection as a part of a divorce order.

What can I do if someone violates an Order of Protection?

It is a crime to violate a temporary or final order of protection. If the subject of the order of protection does not obey the order, then you can call the police. The police may arrest the individual for violating the order of protection.

The individual does not have to physically assault you to violate the order. If the individual comes to your home and the order says they can’t, then you can call the police. You also have the right to file a violation of the order in Family Court. Filing a violation in Family Court usually will not result in arrest of the individual who has violated the order. You can choose to go to Family or Criminal Court, or both.

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