Protective Orders

Who can get a Protective Order?

You are eligible to file for a Protective Order if you are being hurt or threatened by:

  • a current or former spouse
  • someone with whom you have a child in common
  • a cohabitant - someone you have lived with as a sexual partner for at least 90 days out of the past year (this includes homosexual and heterosexual relationships)
  • a parent, stepparent, child, or stepchild you have lived with for at least 90 days within the past year
  • any person to whom you are related to by blood, marriage, or adoption

*if your relationship does not fit into any of these categories you may file for a Peace Order.

What actions must have been committed against me?

The person who applies for the Protective Order (the petitioner) must have been a victim of abuse. The law defines abuse as:

  • an act that causes physical harm
  • an act that placed the person in fear of serious bodily harm
  • assault in any degree
  • rape or sexual assault, or attempted rape or sexual assault
  • false imprisonment - keeping someone in place against his or her will

What is the process for getting a Protective Order?

To begin the process of getting a Protective Order, you file a Petition for Protection. During normal business hours, you can obtain and file at the Civil Clerk's desk in either the District or Circuit Court, in the county where the abuse occurred. Your local domestic violence program can help you find the nearest court and guide you through this process. There is no fee for filing a Petition for protection.

On the Petition for Protection, you will give information about your abuser and the abuse received. Once you complete the form, you will see a judge the same day in a "Temporary Protective Order" hearing. As long as the judge has reasonable grounds to believe the abuse occurred, he or she will issue a Temporary Order.

The Temporary Order takes effect as soon as it is given to your abuser - "served" - by law an enforcement officer. Before you return home or to a place where your abuser might be, you should make sure the order has been served and your abuser has left the house or apartment. You can find out whether the protective order has been served by contacting your local sheriff's office.

The Temporary Order will list the date your Final Protective Order Hearing in about 7 days. The Temporary Order is in effect only until the date of the Final Protective Order Hearing.

**Remember that a Protective Order will not necessarily stop your abuser from coming near or harming you. But it gives the police a greater ability to respond if he or she does so. You may still need to go to a shelter or other safe place even if you have a Protective Order.

The Final Protective Order Hearing

Within 7 days after Temporary Order is issued, the Final Protective Order hearing is held before a judge. The victim must attend this hearing; the abuser will usually be at this hearing and may bring a lawyer. You may bring a lawyer if you wish, or a court companion from your local domestic violence program.

The judge will grant a Final Protective Order if the abuser consents to the Order, or if the judge finds "clear and convincing evidence" that the abuse has occurred. Be sure to bring any evidence you have, such as witnesses, photographs, medical and police reports, objects used to injure you, etc. If the abuser does not appear, the judge may grant a Final Protective Order by default.

The Final Protective Order takes effect immediately. A Final Protective Order lasts up to 12 months, with a possibility of a 6-month extension.

** Once you receive a Protective Order, keep a copy with you at all times. Tell your neighbors, people at your work, and people at your child's school or daycare that you have an Order but may still be in danger. Leave copies of the Protective Order at work and at the school.

What protections can I get?

In an Interim or Temporary Order, the judge can grant "stay away" or "no contact" orders which order the abuser to:

  • stop abusing or threatening to abuse you
  • stop contacting, attempting to contact, or harassing you
  • stay away from your work, school, or residence
  • move out of the home where you live
  • stay away from your childcare provider

The judge can also:

  • grant you temporary custody of your children
  • grant you temporary use and possession of the home, if you live with the abuser

In the Final Protective Order, the judge can add orders concerning:

  • surrender firearms to law enforcement
  • professional counseling
  • financial support
  • temporary use in¬†possession of a vehicle

What happens if a Protective Order is violated?

If the abuser violates the Order, call 911 immediately. Police are required to arrest the abuser for violating the "no-contact" or "stay away" provisions.

The first conviction for the violation of a Protective Order may bring up to 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. Second and subsequent convictions may bring up to 1 year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine.

If the abuser violates other orders - those about child custody, visitation, financial support, temporary use of a car, counseling, firearms, or staying away from a childcare provider - he or she may be cited for contempt of court.

Who can get a Peace Order?

Anyone who is NOT eligible for a Protective Order may petition for a Peace Order.

Peace Orders are very similar to Protective Orders, but they have some important differences

What acts must have been committed against me?

To petition for a Peace Order, you must have been a victim of abuse, or Harassment, Stalking, Trespassing, or Malicious Destruction of Property.

What protections can I get with a Peace Order?

The judge can order the abuser to:

  • stop committing or threatening to commit the acts you indicated were committed against you
  • refrain from contacting, attempting to contact, or harassing you
  • stay away from your work, school, or residence
  • attend professional counseling
  • pay filing fees or costs

What is the process for getting a Peace Order?

The process for obtaining a Peace Order is similar to that for a Protective Order: you file a petition and are granted a Temporary Peace Order, at which time a Final Peace Order hearing is scheduled.

The main differences between Peace Orders and Protective Orders are:

  • the Peace Order petition must be filed in the District Court
  • the act must have occurred within 30 days before filing the petition
  • there is a fee for filing and serving a Peace Order Petition (the fee is usually $30 to $50, and part or all of it may sometimes be waived)
  • the order lasts 6 months
  • a Peace Order may be filed against a juvenile by first contacting the local department of justice
  • a Peace Order does not restrict the rights to firearms

What happens if a Peace Order is violated?

If the abuser violates orders to attend counseling or pay fees, he or she may be charged contempt by the court. If the respondent violates any other orders, he or she can be arrested and faces up to 90 days in jail and/or $1,000 fine.