Are you living in fear of an individual who has exhibited threatening behavior towards you or your loved ones? Or is someone in your home engaging in domestic abuse aimed at you or someone else in the home? If you are facing any type of frightening situation, a protective order can help make you feel more at peace.
A protective order, also often referred to as a restraining order, is a helpful tool in ensuring your safety. This legal course of action prevents the person who threatens harm to you from causing further pain or fear. Additionally, providing proof of a person violating your protective order can be extremely helpful when you return to court. This helps to hold that person in criminal contempt if law enforcement needs to be called or the individual otherwise violated their order.
If you would like to pursue obtaining a Virginia protective order, a knowledgeable and compassionate family law attorney can help. Call Montagna Law at (757) 622-8100 to obtain legal advice about how we can help you solve your problem and get the protection you need.
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, a judge can grant you a protective order if you can demonstrate good cause that you are being endangered. This is especially true if a reasonable fear of bodily injury, sexual assault, or death is imminent based on a threatening individual’s behaviors toward you. In most instances, if you have been the victim of a crime, you can justify the need to be issued a protective order. Virginia law stipulates a protective order can be either a no-contact order or a stay-away order.
In Virginia, there are two courts from which you can file a protective order. The court you file for the order in will depend upon the type of relationship you had (or have) with the person you plan to file against.
If the individual threatening you is a family member or a member of your household, you can go to the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This is also the court you go to if either the petitioner (person seeking the protective order) or respondent (individual committing violent acts or threats) is under the age of 18.
In cases where the individual making threats or committing violence is not a family or household member, then you would go to the General District Court to file for a protective order. This includes, but is not limited to, people who are dating and same-sex couples who do not live together.
When filing an order and subsequently meeting with a judge, the alleged perpetrator does not get to be present for this discussion. This allows you to speak freely without fear.
Virginia provides a path for three different types of protective orders: temporary protective order, emergency protective order, and permanent protective order.
When a member of your household is arrested for domestic violence, you are able to pursue an emergency protective order. To be granted the emergency protective order, you must be able to prove to the court that there are reasonable grounds to believe the defendant has committed abuse against family members and is likely to commit future abuse offenses or acts of violence. You can do this by showing evidence to a judge through testimony or swearing under oath.
If you are waiting for a court hearing, if you can present a case you (or your children) are facing immediate danger from someone in your home, you can pursue a preliminary protective order issuance to keep you safe while you wait to be seen during a full hearing at court.
This type of protective order can be issued when a history or even a case of family abuse is present. You do not need to demonstrate an immediate and present danger to the court to receive a permanent protective order. As an alleged victim who has already demonstrated cause, you can obtain a permanent and full protective order.
To determine what course of action you should pursue in your circumstances, it is a good idea to consult with an experienced protective order attorney who is well-versed in Virginia criminal and family law.
The length of time a protective order lasts will depend upon the type of restraining order issued by the court. For instance, an emergency protective order is the first one granted and can last up to 72 hours. A preliminary protective order can last for the full hearing. If successful, a permanent protective order will be issued and is good for two years and can be renewed afterward if the petitioner deems it necessary.
In the Commonwealth, a judge can opt to add one or more different provisions to a protective order depending upon the specific circumstances in the case. For instance, the court can decide to do the following:
These are only a handful of the provisions a judge might set, depending on the situation or threat you are facing. You can talk to your protective order attorney to determine if certain stipulations should be requested from the court.
In Virginia, violating a protective order can result in a criminal charge under Code § 18.2-60.4. The first violation is considered to be a class 1 misdemeanor charge. The next two charges are also misdemeanors, and three or more violation offenses of a restraining order result in a felony arrest.
The Commonwealth is very specific about penalties for violating protective orders and what punishments are issued for disobeying court orders. These violations turn into criminal court cases where the defendant will need a criminal defense attorney to represent them. In other words, the more times a respondent violates their civil protective order, they then must face a criminal case under the Virginia code relating to protective orders if the judge finds them in violation.
Living in fear of a person who is physically harming or threatening to harm you is not just frightening; it is usually stressful and can totally disrupt your life. Pursuing a protective order against the person hurting you can be both physically and emotionally draining. Getting a restraining order in place can protect your body and provide you with peace of mind. This ensures that you will have recourse if an individual continues to threaten or hurt you.
The caring and experienced attorneys at Montagna Law want what is best for you, your children, or anyone living in your household – we will do everything we can to stop the threats and/or violence you are suffering from, and we will aggressively pursue a protective order hearing to protect you.
To speak with a protective order lawyer about your situation or to receive a consultation, contact our law firm at (757) 622-8100 or fill out our online contact form. A member of our legal team will get right back to you. Our law office services the entire Hampton Roads area, including Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, and Suffolk.
*The consult fee is $50 for up to ½ hr phone consults and $100 for up to 1 hr in-person consults. These consult fees are then applied to the retainer if the client retains us within 30 days of the initial consult.