Virginia Protective Orders

A protective order in Virginia is an order of the court that directs the person who is the defendant or to whom that order is directed to stay away from another individual. Sometimes it is family and household members; in some cases, it is the person’s home and work.

A protective order will be granted against a family or household member if the court believes that there has been either an act of family or household violence or a threat of that. To best understand the role of Virginia protective orders in your domestic violence case, it is important to consult with an experienced Virginia domestic violence lawyer as soon as possible.

Types of Protective Orders

There are a couple of types of protective orders in Virginia. The first one is an emergency protective order. This is a protective order that lasts 72 hours. It is a type of order in which a judge is authorized to enter whenever there is a charge of domestic assault and battery or some other charge where a family or household member is the alleged victim. It has the ability to tell a person to stay away from the alleged victim and to stay away from the property where they live.

The next kind of protective order is called a preliminary protective order. This is a protective order that is entered into when someone has petitioned for a permanent Virginia protective order. When one petitions for permanent protective order, the court will issue a preliminary protective order that is good for up to 15 days.

Within those 15 days, the court must then hold a hearing to determine whether a permanent protective order will be entered. A permanent restraining order in Virginia is not truly permanent; it may extend for a period of up to two years.

Issuing an Order

Protective orders in Virginia are issued by a magistrate judge, a juvenile and domestic court judge, or a circuit court judge.

In the case of an emergency restraining orders in Virginia, a magistrate may enter that order at the time that a defendant is charged with the crime. The other kinds of protective orders, which are preliminary protective orders and permanent protective orders, can only be issued by either a juvenile and domestic court judge or a circuit court judge after a hearing on the matter.

Order Length

Permanent protective orders in Virginia can last up to two years and they can be extended an indefinite number of times. It is also true that an order that has been entered can be vacated at any time.

Even where a person has had a permanent Virginia restraining order entered against them for the full two years, the person always has the ability to come back to the court and ask for that protective order be removed or vacated.

Individual Requirements

Most civil Virginia protective orders are going to require the individual to whom it is directed to stay away from some other named individual or individuals. It is going to order the person not to have any contact whatsoever, meaning no in person contact, telephone calls, texts, emails, or even telling someone else to tell them something.

Judges like to say no contact truly means no contact of any kind. Most of these Virginia restraining orders are also are going to order the person to whom it is directed to stay away from the home as well as the workplace of the petitioner.

Modification Process

A Virginia protective order can be vacated or modified at any time, either by the court that issued it or the court to which a person may have the ability to appeal.

For example, if an individual has a protective order entered against them by a juvenile and domestic relations court, not only does that judge who entered the order have the ability to vacate or modify it, the person has the right to appeal that decision to a circuit court judge who also has the ability to either vacate or modify that order.

Impact on a Criminal Case

A protective order can have a significant impact on an individual’s criminal case. Often, Virginia protective order hearings are held separately from cases, so there is the potential for defendants to incriminate themselves if they testify in the course of that case.

On the other hand, often the defense side gets a good look at the prosecution’s case in the course of a protective order. It gets to hear a testimony that is offered by the complaining witness in the case.

Being aware of that hearing, often participating in it, and making sure that that is done with an eye to having the protective order and the criminal case work together can have a synergy, which can help both the protective order case and the criminal case.