Orders of protections are important legal protections for victims of domestic violence. Although they obviously can't solve the problem of domestic violence, orders of protection are important steps in getting police and the legal system involved in your safety. The questions below should give you some important introductory guidance into the legal issues surrounding orders of protection.
What does an Order of Protection do?
An Order of Protection can be tailored to your specific needs and can address your particular concerns. The court can order the abuser to stay away from you and can prevent him from contacting you by phone, mail, e-mail, fax, or through third parties. It can force the abuser to move out of your home and give you exclusive use of the car. The court may award temporary custody of children to you, along with child support, spousal support, and continuation of insurance coverage. The police can arrest and jail the abuser for violating the order.
How do I get an Order of Protection?
To get an Order of Protection: call the local state or district attorney or tell the police you want to get one. They will tell you whom to contact. Some locations have special courts where you can get an order of protection and others may have special offices within the police department or state attorney’s office to help you. You will have to go to court.
At the court hearing, you will need to show a judge that you have been threatened with violence or that you have suffered abuse. Witnesses, including police officers, can help your case. Depending on your state law, physical evidence is also helpful, but not essential. Physical evidence could include signs of physical abuse such as bruises, photos of physical damage to property (the smashed table, the hole in the wall), or objects used in an assault (the ashtray he threw, the knife he brandished).
If you and your spouse live on base (or even if you do not) you may be able to get a Military Protective Order which functions similarly to a protective order issued by civilian authorities. Make sure that the Military Protective Order is forwarded to civilian authorities and any protective orders issued by civilian authorities are forwarded to the Military Police. Both types of orders may be enforceable on and off a military installation depending on how they are prepared and the procedures followed.
How will the Order of Protection work?
An order should focus on your specific safety needs. If you have children and are concerned for their safety, you must specifically request custody and visitation restrictions or “no contact” orders. Once an order is in place, you must call the police every time the order is violated.
You should make lots of copies and carry a copy everywhere, especially if it has custody or visitation provisions.