We want to help! If you have further questions or would like someone to accompany you through this process and be there during protective order court proceedings, please contact the Domestic Violence Resource Specialist.
Three types of Protective Orders:
An Emergency Protective Order, also called an EPO, can be issued by a Magistrate at the request of a Law Enforcement Officer, either over the telephone or in person. An EPO can be issued if there is an arrest or if there is no arrest, but there is probable danger of family abuse. An EPO can impose one or more of the following conditions against a Respondent: prohibition of further acts of abuse, prohibition of contact with the family or household member(s), and grant the Petitioner possession of the premises. An EPO will expire 72 hours after it has been issued. It is not in effect until such time that the Respondent is served in person by a law enforcement officer. If the expiration date occurs on a day that court is not in session, the EPO will expire on the next business day that court is in session. If a violation occurs, the respondent may be arrested (Class 1 Misdemeanor). If you would like to petition the court to extend an EPO, you may do so by filing a petition for a Preliminary Protective Order.
A Preliminary Protective Order can be requested by the Petitioner within a reasonable period of time after family abuse has occurred. Petitions can be completed at the Intake Office of the Juvenile Court Service Unit, located in the basement level of the Juvenile/Domestic Relations District Court. A petition must be completed by the victim. Charges do not have to be filed in order to request one. On the petition, the victim must give a brief, but specific statement with regard to the facts of the case and details of the events that occurred. The petitioner can ask for many conditions for the Judge to consider. Such conditions include, but are not limited to: no contact, no further acts of abuse, possession of the marital residence, and possession of a motor vehicle (must be jointly owned by the parties or solely owned by the Petitioner) to name a few. Once the petition is reviewed, it may be approved and taken to the Clerk of the Court where a date and time will be set, almost always the same day. This hearing is considered ex parte, which means one party (the Petitioner) is present before the Judge. At that hearing, the Juvenile/Domestic Relations Court Judge may issue the Preliminary Protective Order for up to fifteen (15) days, so long as the Petitioner has established probable cause. The Petitioner will be served with their copy at the conclusion of the hearing. The Preliminary Protective Order is not in effect until such time that the Respondent is served in person by a law enforcement officer. Another court date will be on the Preliminary Protective Order which shows when the hearing for the Permanent Protective Order will take place. Should the Respondent violate the Order, they may be arrested (Class 1 Misdemeanor).
There will be a full hearing for the Permanent Protective Order the same day that the Preliminary Protective Order expires. The respondent (if served) will be at that hearing with/without an attorney that they have to retain on their own. As the Petitioner, you can retain an attorney if you so desire and it is your responsibility to pay for that attorney, as this is a civil case. You may qualify for an attorney, pro bono (at no cost to you), but you must call Rappahannock Legal Services to qualify. At this hearing, the Judge of Domestic/Relations District Court will hear both sides of the argument and may issue a Permanent Protective Order for up to two (2) years. Issuance of the order will occur if the Petitioner has met the burden of proof, which is a preponderance of the evidence. Conditions the Judge may include on the Permanent Protective Order include, but are not limited to: no further contact, no further acts of abuse, no contact with other family or household members, exclusive use and possession of the marital residence, exclusive use and possession of a motor vehicle (jointly owned by the parties or owned solely by the Petitioner), and possession of a companion animal. If the Judge determines a Permanent Protective Order shall be issued, it will be served on both parties at the conclusion of the hearing that day and go into effect.