Protective Order Lawyers
Virginia has only three kinds of protective orders, all based on how long they can be in force. For such a seemingly simple instrument of the law, protective orders can be complicated documents that disrupt your everyday life, drive up legal expenses, and create wedges between you and those you love.
A protective order (PO) is issued by a Virginia judge or magistrate in response to a petition from a victim or the victim’s attorney. The PO is designed to protect the health and safety of a person alleged to be a victim of any act involving violence, force or threat that results in bodily injury or places that person in fear of death, sexual assault or bodily injury. The PO must name the abuser.
The three types of POs in Virginia are:
- An Emergency Protective Order (EPO), which expires at the end of the third day following issuance or the next day court is in session, whichever is later
- A Preliminary Protective Order (PPO), which lasts 15 days or until a full hearing
- A Protective Order (PO), which may last up to two years
Though a PO costs nothing to file, court forms must be filled out correctly. Time is vital for the PO to be effective, so any mistake on the forms could delay enforcement of the PO. Since a protective order can be used against a household member or a member of the general public, two different courts can hear the petition:
- Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court
- General District Court
Since the job must be done correctly from the start, if you need a protective order as a safeguard for you or a loved one, find an experienced, local family law attorney to assist you. The PO will not be effective until a judge issues it and a local law enforcement officer serves it against the named individual.
Provisions of Protective Orders
Most POs permit specific directives to be given to the abuser. The court can order your named abuser to have no contact with you. The court can specify the types of forbidden contact:
- In person
- By telephone
- Through the U.S. mails
- Through private delivery services
- Through electronic media
The court can also order the abuser to stay away from your home, work, school, or just about any named Virginia location. A PO can cover you and anyone within your household or family. This is how you protect your children, elderly relatives, or anyone in your home who feels threatened by an abuser.
Additional provisions of a Virginia PO can include:
- Orders for the abuser to vacate shared dwellings (your house, apartment, mobile home or other residence)
- Custody of your children
- Orders for the abuser to pay child support and spousal or partner support
- Orders for the abuser to pay any expenses related to the abuse, such as moving expenses; lost income from a job; and medical, psychiatric or dental work
- Orders that the abuser pay the victim’s attorney fees
- Orders for the abuser to pay damages to you, or to anyone else hurt by the abuser
A Virginia judge or magistrate can even order the abuser to seek professional mental health assistance, attend an Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meeting, or participate in domestic violence counseling.
Receiving a Protective Order
An EPO or PPO can be issued against you without your knowledge. For a restraining or protective order to be made permanent, you must be informed through papers served to you.
Many Virginia men find themselves getting unwanted attention from Virginia law enforcement, the uniformed officers delivering an EPO, PPO or PO against them. The neighbors see. The boss at work sees. Parents and other relatives hear about it. The experience can be embarrassing, humiliating, and career-threatening.
Unfortunately, some Virginia men do not react well to accusations of abuse that lead to a protective order. Instead of quietly contacting an experienced family law attorney, a man might lash out at law enforcement, an estranged wife, or a former partner. This only makes a bad situation worse.
Any expansive reaction is understandable. This little piece of paper says you cannot see your children, cannot contact your wife, ex-wife, or partner, cannot stay in a home you may have paid for.
If you receive a PO naming you as an abuser, stifle every instinct to physically deal with it. Contact a reliable, local law firm experienced in handling protective orders. A good attorney can limit the impact of a PO, investigate to determine what evidence was used to produce it, and develop a strategy for recovering your dignity, home, and relationships.
Defending Against a Protective Order
Evidence is your strongest defense. Lashing out verbally, making up counterclaims, or attacking your accuser’s character all make you look worse. Many claims of abuse cite mental or emotional abuse; using offensive language to describe your estranged wife plays right into her hands.
The PO issued against you must state what the basis of the order is:
- Sexual abuse
- Mental or emotional abuse
It must also state the victim of your threats, which can help you develop evidence and a defense against the claims. Work with your attorney to gather witness statements, seek out character witnesses, produce work histories that could prove your whereabouts on specific dates at specific times, and other evidence.
The more evidence you can provide, and the stronger your claims of being a morally upright, law-abiding citizen, the stronger your defense against a PO. Your goal is not only to get the PO dismissed, it is to mend the relationships with those you have been prevented from seeing. You additionally need to recover your reputation, privately among family and friends but also publicly, among workmates, employer and business contacts.
Many Virginia men feel a false accusation of abuse resulting in a protective order somehow emasculates them. They want to prove their manhood by resorting to a trial by ordeal, a concept banished hundreds of years ago legally but still entrenched in the male ego. Forget and forego all that. Listen to your lawyer. You are paying for your attorney’s expert advice anyway; you might as well follow it.
Conduct yourself responsibly. Try to keep a clear head. Listen to and follow every direction your lawyer provides. Too much is at stake to let emotions cloud your judgment. Too much is at stake to take matters into your own hands. Let trained, experienced family law attorneys help you.
Contacting The Firm For Men is great first step in dealing with a protective order. Call our offices today at (757) 383-9184 or contact us online. We defend Virginia men’s rights every day, and we can defend you, too.