Protection Orders

What is a protection order?

A protection order -- commonly known as a restraining order -- is a court order that restrains one person from contacting the other or from physically coming close to the protected person, their home, and their workplace. Courts typically issue protection orders to protect victims in criminal cases involving domestic violence. That type of protection order follows the criminal case and goes away once the criminal case is dismissed or once the restrained person completes their sentence.

You can also bring a case for a permanent civil protection order in county court or in a family law case (e.g. divorce or child custody). Once you have a protection order that restrains the other person from contacting you, violation of the protection order is a crime.

Do I need a protection order?

If you are a victim of intimate partner violence (including physical and emotional violence by one intimate partner against another) and your ex continues to threaten you or abuse you, you may want to ask the court for a permanent protection order for your safety.

In certain circumstances, courts may issue protection orders in other types of cases involving businesses, neighbors, and family members.

To get a protection order, you must show not only that the other person has abused you, but also that they will continue to do so without a protection order.

What is the process for civil protection orders? 

The person bringing the protection order case, the Petitioner, must first file a verified petition or a motion for a temporary protection order. The court may grant the temporary protection order without questioning or it may hold an ex parte hearing (meaning a hearing without the other person present) asking the Petitioner questions about why they need it. Once it is granted, the Petitioner must serve the restrained person, the Respondent, with the temporary protection order and summons. Typically, the sheriff in the county where the restrained person lives can serve these documents.

If the court issues the temporary protection order, it will schedule a hearing in which both people are ordered to appear no later than 14 days from issuing the temporary order. At this time, both parties may present their cases and the judge will decide whether to issue a permanent order.

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