Domestic Violence Protective Orders
Domestic violence cases can be either civil or criminal in nature. When you have been summoned to court because of allegations of family abuse or violence leading to the issuance of a protective order, those proceedings are considered civil in nature. However, just because you cannot be put in jail in a protective order hearing, it does not mean you should go ahead and deal with the case on your own. Protective orders have a number of consequences which are not immediately apparent. It is important to contact Carlos Wall and Alex Gordon, experienced Virginia protective order attorneys, to discuss your rights and prepare a plan of action.
How are Domestic Violence Protective Orders Issued in Virginia courts?
Protective orders may be issued in case of where the court makes a preliminary finding that there has been “family abuse.” “Family abuse” means any act involving violence, force, or threat including any forceful detention, which results in physical injury or places one in reasonable apprehension of serious bodily injury and which is committed by a person against such a person's family or household member.
This process can begin one of two ways. First, if there is an arrest by the police for domestic violence, the police will obtain an emergency protective order. The emergency protective order lasts for 72 hours and the protected person can petition the Court to convert the emergency protective order to a preliminary protective order.
Second, a person who is the subject of family abuse can petition the court, on their behalf or other family members’ behalf, for a preliminary protective order. Once a preliminary protective order is issued, the person to whom the order is directed to (“respondent”) will have to appear in court and defend the order. The preliminary protective order will be in effect for 15 days, during which you will have to appear in court to defend the allegations. If you have been served with a preliminary protective order, you should immediately contact an attorney and refrain from calling the person(s) who is protected by the order or contact them in any way, including through social media and third parties.
Violation of a Domestic Violence Protective Order
If you do contact a protected party after being served with the protective order, you will be arrested and charged with a criminal offense. If you are convicted of making contact with the protected party, a jail sentence will be imposed. It is imperative that your first call not be to the protected party, but to an experienced attorney. Carlos Wall and Alex Gordon will help protect you and your interests going forward. Call us at 703.218.8416 or email our law firm at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What can the court order?
If the Court finds sufficient evidence to issue the protective order, it may be issued for up to two years in duration. Either party, during the time period during which the order is in effect, may petition the court to dissolve the protective order. If a protective order is issued, the Court may order the respondent to obey the following conditions:
1- Have no contact, either directly or indirectly, with the protected person. A violation of this condition will lead to new criminal charges.
2- The Court may order you to vacate the residence you share with the protected person, even if it your home, and grant exclusive use of the residence to the protected person.
3- Order you to maintain utilities on the property, and to keep paying the bill even if you are no longer allowed to live there.
4- Grant the protected person the continued use of a cell phone, even if you are the one who owns the phone and pays for the service.
5- Grant exclusive use of a vehicle that is owned by the protected party, or owned jointly by the parties.
6- Order you to provide suitable alternative housing to the protected party if they reside in your home. In addition, you will have to pay for utilities in the new residence.
7- The Court may order you to complete counseling.
8- The Court may grant exclusive possession of a companion animal.
9- The Court may also enter a temporary child custody and visitation order and order temporary child support as well.
Lasting Effects of a Domestic Violence Protective Order
As you can see from this list, showing up to a protective order hearing without the benefit of an attorney can lead to tremendous consequences. In addition, to the powers given to the judge hearing the case, Virginia law also makes it a crime (Class 1 misdemeanor) for a person who is subject to a protective order to purchase or transport any firearm while the protective order is in effect. So, if you are in the military, or are required to have a firearm for employment purposes, you may be unable to fulfill your duties.
Also, In 1994, Congress enacted the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which requires all U.S. states and territories to give “full faith and credit” to all valid orders of protection issued by other jurisdictions including tribal lands, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. The intent of this provision is to ensure that victims of abuse can call upon law enforcement for protection no matter where they are in the country. This means that protective orders are entered into the Protection Order File of the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). If a protective order was issued and is in the NCIC, this means that most employers will be able to determine that a protective order was issued against you. Accordingly, protective orders can have outsized consequences, especially for members of our military and government employees and contractors in our area.
The Gordon Law Firm can help you
Carlos Wall and Alex Gordon have litigated hundreds of cases where protective orders have been at issue in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts in Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William County. We have protected our clients from people seeking protective orders and also obtained protective orders for our clients in appropriate cases of domestic abuse. As part of our practice, we have noticed that the issuance of a protective order typically precedes the start of divorce proceedings. Accordingly, we have developed our methods and practices to specifically help our clients going through these difficult times.
We look forward to helping you through this difficult time. We routinely appear on these matters in Fairfax County, Prince William County and Loudoun County. Call us today for help at 703.218.8416 or email our law firm at email@example.com. We look forward to speaking with you and assisting you.