Ashley Jackson Attorney
Orders of Protection: When to seek one and what to do if you are served.
An Order of Protection is a method in which to seek urgent protection for you and/or your minor children. If granted, Orders of Protection take away the Defendant's constitutional right to bear arms, parent their children if the Petitioner requests protection for their children, and to have liberty. Therefore, the law is very specific on when an Order of Protection can be granted and the burden of Petitioner's proof in order to be successful.
A person may seek an Order of Protection when they have been subjected to domestic abuse, sexual abuse or stalking by submitting a Petition for Order of Protection to the Judicial Commissioner, or another designated officer, in person by writing a narrative describing the need for an Order of Protection. The Judicial Commissioner, after reviewing the Petition, will then grant or deny the Order of Protection on the spot. If granted, the Order of Protection will be valid immediately and the Defendant will not be allowed to contact the Petitioner upon the Defendant being served. A hearing before a Judge will be set within 14 days of the Order of Protection being granted where the Petitioner must prove that domestic abuse, sexual abuse or stalking has occurred. If the Judge finds one of the three occurred, the Order of Protection will be granted for a period of one year. At the end of the one year period, if the Petitioner wishes to extend the Order of Protection, another hearing must be held to determine whether the Order of Protection shall be extended. Otherwise, it automatically expires after one year.
If the Judicial Commissioner denies the Petition for Order of Protection, a hearing is still held before a Judge within 14 days where the Petitioner will be allowed to present their evidence to a Judge as to why the Order of Protection should be granted for a year.
Upon being served with an Order of Protection, a Defendant should immediately contact an attorney to review the Petition and Order and advise the Defendant of their rights. A violation of an Order of Protection is a crime and is punishable by jail time. Therefore, it is vital that a Defendant fully understand their rights and responsibilities before attempting to make any contact with the Petitioner. As previously stated, whether an Order of Protection is initially granted or not, a hearing will be held within 14 days on whether the Order of Protection should be granted for a period of one year. Because an Order of Protection takes away a Defendant's constitutional rights for a whole year, it is crucial to have good representation at this stage. An attorney who is experienced in defending Orders of Protection and is well versed in the law governing these cases could be the difference between the Order of Protection being granted or dismissed.
It is important to note that a Defendant is not entitled to an appointed attorney in an Order of Protection proceeding. Therefore, it's important that a Defendant not wait until they go to court to seek representation. The sooner a Defendant retains an attorney to defend them in these cases, the better chance they have to develop a strong defense before going to court.