Prince William County Protective Order Lawyer
As defined by Prince William County law, a protective order is a traditional order issued by a magistrate judge or a judge from a district or circuit court with jurisdiction. It prohibits certain kinds of contact between two people. The holder of the protective order is usually the alleged victim and the target of the protective order is usually the defendant. Temporary or emergency protective orders could last up to 72 hours at a time. Preliminary protective orders could last up to the time that a related trial occurs. Full protective orders could last up to two years at a time. If you are the subject of a protective order, seek the services of a Prince William County protective order lawyer that could ensure that your rights are protected. A dedicated domestic violence attorney could advocate for you.
Differences Between a Restraining Order and a Protective Order
As a Prince William County protective order lawyer could explain, the difference between a restraining order and a protective order is that, on occasion, a court prohibits contact between two people with a protective order by prohibiting proximity between two people with a restraining order. This either involves limiting the number of feet a person could go within the presence of another person or the number of miles a person could go within a specific address. Sometimes both forms of restraint are imposed. This is a more drastic measure aimed at preventing contact between two individuals, but it has the same purpose as a protective order. Most practitioners refer to protective orders and restraining orders interchangeably.
When Might a Judge Grant a Protective Order?
Circumstances in which a judge might grant a protective order are when they have probable cause to believe domestic violence has recently occurred or is at risk of occurring in the near future. By law, a law enforcement officer in many types of domestic violence cases must petition for a temporary protective order on behalf of the alleged victim when the domestic violence charge is issued. Judges do not have to grant such orders, but they often do.
To grant an emergency protective order, a judge must find probable cause to believe that the accused has both committed an act of family abuse as defined by law, and would commit further acts of family abuse if an emergency protective order is not granted. To grant a preliminary protective order, a judge must find beyond a reasonable doubt that the petitioner is in immediate and present danger of family abuse by the accused or that the accused has recently committed family abuse. A full protective order could be issued only when the court finds beyond reasonable doubt that the accused has committed an act of family abuse. It is usually after an underlying domestic violence charge has resulted in a conviction.
Types of Protective Orders
There are three types of protective orders:
- Temporary or emergency protective orders
- Preliminary protective orders
- Full protective orders
A temporary or emergency protective order is granted by a magistrate judge without notice to an accused and lasts 72 hours at a time. When a temporary protective order expires, the petitioner could request a preliminary protective order, which would automatically last at least 15 days. It could potentially last as long as the trial is pending on the underlying charge. A full protective order is the longest kind of protective order and is typically issued only after the accused has been found guilty of the associated charge. A full protective order could last up to two years of the time. As a Prince William County protective order lawyer could explain, a protective order could be canceled, shortened, renewed, or modified at any time.
Ex Parte Orders
Emergency protective orders are issued by a magistrate judge immediately following the issuance of a related domestic violence charge, or by a normal judge if requested after a case has already started. They are issued “ex parte” which means outside of the accused’s knowledge or presence and are requested by police officers or prosecutors on behalf of an alleged victim who has just reported domestic violence.
Testimony from either the alleged victim or a law enforcement officer can be sufficient, but the terms of the order have to be reduced to writing after being issued by the judge. Depending on the underlying criminal charge, emergency protective orders can even be issued automatically by a magistrate judge. It is then the obligation of law enforcement to serve the accused with a copy of the order as soon as possible.
Preliminary Protective Orders
Preliminary protective orders are issued by a judge in response to a petition by the requestor of the order after an accused has already been charged. In the petition, the requestor must make statements under oath and is often required to further provide live testimony before the court grants the petition. Preliminary protective orders can be issued ex parte as well, but there must be a hearing within 15 days of issuing the order where the accused has the opportunity to appear and dispute the petitioner’s evidence. The court can then grant the petition and issue a protective order that lasts until trial, or a full protective order that lasts up to 2 years if there is no corresponding criminal case pending. The court can also deny the petition instead; however, full protective orders themselves can never be issued without notice and a hearing for the accused.
A protective order can be vacated or modified by the court at any time either at the request of the holder or target of the protective order, provided the requestor can demonstrate the appropriate level of evidence to justify the request, or the parties come to an agreed request. A Prince William County protective order lawyer could help an individual request modification of an order and help them collect the evidence necessary to justify the modification.
How a Prince William County Protective Order Attorney Could Help
As a Prince William County protective order lawyer could explain, if a person obeys a protective order, it can become positive evidence to use in a related criminal case in terms of disputing any claims of remaining danger to the alleged victim, or arguing that the accused and the accuser can be trusted to work out their own personal problems outside of court. It can also increase a person’s chances of being granted a bond if that is an issue, and can mitigate the impact of the court’s potential sentence if convicted. However, if a person violates a protective order, the effect will be the opposite on all of these fronts, and will only make the case worse to some varying degree. However, a violation of a protective order is usually treated less seriously when it is shown that the holder of the protective order was complicit in the violation. A capable Prince William County protective order attorney could help an individual ensure that they are complying with the terms of the order and, help them mitigate the consequences of an order violation if one does occur.