Protective Orders in Virginia

A protective order, commonly referred to as a “restraining order,” is a court order that prohibits contact or requires certain actions under penalty of law. Protective orders are often issued in domestic violence cases, where there is a threat of future harm by the alleged abuser.

Protective orders can be issued by the court or sought by the alleged victim. Violating a protective order can be a misdemeanor offense and violating a protective order three or more times is a felony. If you are seeking a protective order or have been served with a protective order in Virginia, contact me to discuss your matter.

Protective Orders in Virginia

Protective orders are generally issued by the court to protect an alleged abused person and his or her family. There are three kinds of protective orders in Virginia:

  • Emergency Protective Orders (EPO)
  • Preliminary Protective Orders (PPO)
  • Permanent Protective Orders (PO)

Conditions and Restrictions of a Protective Order

The conditions and restrictions of a Virginia protective order depend on the situation. Conditions may also be more restrictive on a permanent order compared to an EPO. Conditions on the respondent (alleged abuser) can include the following.

  • Prohibiting contact by the respondent with the victim, victim's family, and household members.
  • Prohibiting any acts of violence, threats, force, or criminal offenses resulting in injury or damage to property.
  • Possession of a pet or companion animal for the animal owner.
  • Grant possession of the residence.
  • Require the respondent maintain utility services for the household.
  • Grant temporary possession of a jointly owned vehicle.
  • Require the respondent to provide suitable housing for the family or household members.
  • Provide for temporary custody of a minor child.
  • Require respondent to attend counseling, treatment, or educational program.
  • Other conditions the judge deems necessary to protect the victim and family members.

Individuals who are subject to a permanent family abuse protective order in Virginia can also be prohibited from possessing a firearm.

Emergency Protective Order (EPO)

An emergency protective order is generally issued after a domestic violence-related arrest or an arrest for child abuse. A police officer can request an EPO where the officer believes there is a danger of further acts of abuse, violence, or threat of abuse to a victim or family or household member.

The abuse victim can also file a petition for an EPO even if no arrest has been made.

An EPO is generally valid for 72 hours (3 days). This is a limited protective order and provides a short term of protection until a preliminary or permanent order hearing can be held where the respondent will have a chance to respond to the allegations.

Preliminary Protective Order (PPO)

A preliminary protective order generally follows a domestic violence arrest or charges of violence or threat of violence against a family or household member. A PPO can follow an EPO, but it is not necessary to get an EPO first before getting a PPO. A PPO is issued based on the victim's sworn statement. A PPO is valid for 15 days or until the final permanent protective order hearing.

Permanent Protective Order (PO)

A “permanent” protective order is not really permanent but it can last for up to two years. At the end of the two-year term, the PO can be continually extended for another two-year term if the judge finds there is a need for extended protection for the abuse victim. During a PO hearing, the judge may hear from both the petitioner and the alleged abuser.

Filing for a Protective Order Against Abuse

A protective order is a civil court process in Virginia and does not require a fee to file for a protective order. A lawyer can help you file for a protective order and represent you during the court process. Individuals can also go to the court or legal aid office to get help filing for a protective order.

How do I respond to a notice of a protective order?

If you are served with notice of a protective order, you may want to contact an experienced lawyer to help you respond to the order. Never try and contact the petitioner as this may be a violation of the protective order. Many people talk to the petitioner or family members after an order is issued to try and work it out. This could lead to an arrest and criminal charges for violating a restraining order.

Penalties for Violating a Protective Order in Virginia

A protective order is a civil court order in Virginia, but violating a protective order is a criminal offense. Under Virginia Code § 18.2-60.4, any person who violates any provision of a protective order is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. The maximum penalties for a Class 1 misdemeanor conviction include

  • up to 12 months in jail, and
  • a fine of up to $2,500.

A second offense for violating a protective order within five years (where there was an act or threat of violence) carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 60 days confinement.

A third or subsequent offense for violating a protective order within a 20-year period (where there was an act or threat of violence) is a Class 6 felony. The penalties for a Class 6 felony include

  • From one year to five years imprisonment; or
  • in the discretion of the jury or court, confinement in jail for not more than 12 months, with a minimum of six months confinement; and
  • a fine of up to $2,500.

Lawyer for Charlottesville Protective Orders

After a domestic violence call, the people involved will generally have to deal with a protective order. A PO can have serious consequences for two years or more, and violating a restraining order can mean criminal charges. If you have any questions about a protective order in Charlottesville, contact attorney Thomas M. Wilson today for a free consultation.

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