An Order of Protection (OP) is a court order that stops someone from doing certain things. If you had an OP entered against you, this article will answer some basic questions about it.
How does a person get an Order of Protection?
To get an Order of Protection, a person must file a Petition for an Order of Protection. In their petition, the person must explain to a judge why they want an Order of Protection against you. If the judge believes the person has been abused, they must issue an Order of Protection.
The person can get an Emergency Order right away. This only lasts 14 to 21 days. To get a Plenary Order, which can last up to 2 years, the person must get the Sheriff to serve you. Learn more about the 3 types of Orders of Protection, and responding to an Order of Protection.
How will an Order of Protection affect me?
Read the order to see what it says. If you don’t understand it, talk to a lawyer or someone who can read it. The order will say how physically far away you must be from the person who filed. It will also include any other rules for no-contact. These can include:
- phone calls
- speaking in person
- text messages
- answering machine messages
- social media posts/messages
- contact through a third party, such as a friend, relative, co-worker, neighbor, etc.
Does an OP stop the other party from doing certain things?
No. An OP is a one-way action. It only affects your actions. The person who filed the order is not affected by it.
If the person who filed the order contacts you, talks to you, or comes over to your house, they are not in violation of the order. However, if you respond to their attempts to contact you, or are closer to this person than the order allows, you are violating the protective order. You may be held in contempt of court. This could include fines or even jail time.
If you are living with the person who filed the order, you may not be able to continue living there. You can return to collect your personal things, but you will have to live somewhere else.
If you have children, you may not be allowed to see or contact them. The order will explain parenting time and decision-making power for your children. This will often include any children who are solely your children and not children of the person filing the order.
Once a protective order has been served against you, you are not allowed to have firearms. You cannot purchase, acquire, or be in possession of firearms, ammunition or other dangerous weapons (such as explosives). This includes collectors' items and firearms that do not belong to you. If you already own firearms, storing them in a safe inside your home is not permitted. Your firearms may be left with an attorney, an approved firearms dealer, or with local police/sheriff.
What can I do to make the process easier for me?
If you have been served with a temporary protective order, keep any recorded information that may be helpful in your case. This includes:
- phone records,
- answering machine recordings,
- credit card receipts,
- video recordings, and
- social media messages or posts.
Make sure you can identify the date and time of any of these items.
Carry a copy of your protective order with you at all times. Having the order there to tell a police officer what you are allowed to and not allowed to do under the order will help protect your rights.
Again, be sure that you fully read and understand what the order requires you to do and not do. Each order has specific details and you must understand what is expected of you. Not understanding the requirements of the order may lead to you violating it and facing criminal charges.
Updated: April 2018