Protective orders, often called restraining orders in other states, are powerful legal tools that can be used to protect individuals and families from batterers, stalkers, and predators. These are issued for safety purposes in cases of domestic violence or domestic assault and battery. There are three kinds of protective orders:
Each has a different duration and is obtained under different circumstances. For example, police making an arrest for domestic violence will automatically get an emergency protective order. If you are the victim of abuse, but no criminal charges have been filed, you can go to court and file a petition for a “preliminary” protective order on your own. If the judge feels what you describe in your sworn affidavit is serious enough, he or she can issue a preliminary protective order that same day, even though the alleged abuser has no knowledge of the proceeding yet. The alleged abuser will be served a copy of the order by a sheriff’s deputy and told to present his side of the story within 15 days. A “permanent” protective order lasts no more than two years, although it can be renewed upon request.
Keep in mind that legal protection can not only be obtained against batterers and sexual abusers, but against stalkers, as well. A stalker is someone who follows or monitors you and causes you to reasonably fear for your safety.
Has a protective order been issued against you? Do not underestimate the gravity of protective orders. If one is issued against you, it can affect your employment, your security clearance, your custodial and property rights, your immigration status, and it can follow you the rest of your life.
Did you lie to get a protective order? You could be in serious trouble with the law. Making false reports to the police is a jailable offense in Virginia.