Virginia Protective Orders Attorney
If you fear for your safety or the safety of your children, you can take legal steps to protect yourself. In the state of Virginia, a protective order can often prevent family violence and tragedy. A protective order, also sometimes called a “restraining order,” and is a particular court order that is meant to prevent domestic violence or abuse.
When there is a domestic violence arrest in Virginia, a protective order can be issued automatically for the victim. Otherwise, the person in fear of violence or abuse will need to file for protection with the courts. The state of Virginia has three different types of protective orders: an emergency protective order, a preliminary protective order, and a permanent protective order.
If you are worried about the safety of you and your children, it’s important that you take action as soon as possible. Contact a Virginia domestic violence lawyer that can speak to you about protective orders and help you file a request for the most effective order that addresses your situation.
Virginia Emergency Protective Orders
The courts can issue an emergency protective order (EPO) in Virginia at any time of the day or night, 365 days a year. Any juvenile and domestic relations district court, general district court, or circuit court judge, or any magistrate can sign one of these orders. Since many of these situations are urgent, a law enforcement officer can verbally request an emergency protective order. A police officer can also request these electronically and in person.
Due to the nature of the circumstances under which an emergency protective order is often requested, a court can issue an EPO ex parte, which means that the defendant does not need to be present or given notice of the order. A judge may also issue an emergency protective order at the same time that they issue a warrant that charges someone with domestic violence or some other assault crime against a family member.
Because these orders diminish the defendant’s rights, the law in Virginia requires that a copy of the order be delivered to the defendant as quickly as possible. The defendant also has the right to formally request a hearing with a motion to modify or dissolve the order. Emergency protective orders are only valid for three days, after which a victim can request a preliminary protective order.
Virginia Preliminary Protective Orders
A preliminary protective order (PPO) in Virginia is issued by either a Virginia criminal or civil court. The order is the same, but the circumstances under which it is issued could vary. If there has been a crime committed and there is a court hearing, a PPO could be issued in a criminal court. Otherwise, an individual can petition a civil court for a PPO.
When an individual asks for a protective order, they have to swear under oath either that family abuse has occurred or that they are facing “immediate and present danger” of such abuse. The defendant is provided with a copy of the order and will have an opportunity to go to court within 15 days to dispute the allegations. A PPO is valid for 15 days, after which a full protective order might be granted.
Virginia Full Protective Orders
Once a hearing is held on a preliminary protective order, a judge will decide whether or not to grant a full protective order, which could be valid for up to two years. A plaintiff doesn’t need to prove that they are in immediate danger to receive a full protective order, only that they have suffered from “family abuse.”
Virginia Stalking Protective Orders
Virginia passed a new law that went into effect in 2011, making it easier to get a protective order against a non-family member. If you believe that you are the victim of stalking and that that you are at reasonable risk of injury, sexual assault, or death, you may be able to get a preliminary protective order under Va. Code §19.2-152.9.
Virginia Protective Order Provisions
Protective orders are meant to create a distance between the alleged abuser and their victims. All protective orders in Virginia will include provisions for such things as no contact with the victim, which includes phone calls and texting. An order might include language ordering a defendant to maintain a 500-foot distance from the person and their residence at all times.
A preliminary protective order can require that a defendant finds someplace else to live, prevent a defendant from turning off utilities, and give the plaintiff access to jointly-owned vehicles. A full protective order can also grant temporary custody of a minor child and require that the defendant participates in treatment or counseling.
Amending a Protective Order
Ongoing protective orders can be modified or dissolved before the termination date. Either party can file a motion to amend or dissolve the protective order, and the court will schedule a hearing with both parties. The approval of the request will depend on the facts and circumstances of your particular case.
Violating a Protective Order in Virginia
Violating a protective order in Virginia is a serious matter. If someone has violated their protective order and tried to contact you, you should call the police immediately. There will likely be additional charges for that violation.
If you are the defendant in a protective order and are facing violation, you could be charged with a Class I misdemeanor, which carries up to 12 months in jail and fines of up to $2,500. If you are in this situation, your best course of action is to contact an experienced Virginia criminal defense attorney to discuss your case.
If you are seeking protection against a spouse or partner, you need an attorney immediately. Virginia litigation attorney Joshua Farmer is an aggressive and skilled advocate who understands the state’s criminal justice and family law system. The team at Farmer Law will listen to your personal issues and goals and then provide you with a recommendation to obtain the best results for you and your loved ones. Contact the Glen Allen office of Farmer Legal at (804) 325-1441 to schedule a consultation.