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What should I do if someone files a protection order against me?

It can feel frustrating and sometimes insulting to find out a family member has filed a protection order against you. Often those who are the subject of a protection order also feel defensive and have the urge to immediately share their side of the story. However, it is important to take appropriate actions in response to the protection order to help ensure your side of the story is shared in the right time and place.

Read over the order

Once you have been served a protection order, you should read the order over carefully. It is important to fully understand and abide by the restrictions presented in the protection order, or you risk being penalized. As you read the order over, it is also important to determine if the order is civil or criminal. Sometimes both civil and criminal protection orders are filed.

A temporary protection order (TPO) is a criminal version of a protection order because it accompanies a criminal domestic violence case. However, this type of protection order is temporary, as the name implies, and usually lasts only until the conclusion of the related criminal domestic violence case.

Some of the restrictions you may need to abide by under a TPO include:

  • Staying away from specific people
  • Having no contact with specific people
  • Remaining away from specific locations

A civil protection order (CPO) can have a greater variety of restrictions than a TPO can and is not connected to a criminal case. It can last up to five years.

Some of the restrictions a CPO may require you to abide by, include:

  • Moving out of a shared home
  • Continuing financial support for certain family members
  • Seeking counseling

Attend the hearing

A CPO is filed through the county, and each county’s process can be different. However, you will be able to share your side of the story in a court hearing, which is usually scheduled seven to 10 days out from the time the protection order was requested. You may or may not be subject to an ex parte CPO order in the days before the hearing.

You should consider preparing for this hearing by collecting evidence and determining if any witnesses are willing to testify at the hearing. Your attorney should be able to help you with this part of the process.

Responding to any protection order can be challenging. Protection orders and false accusations of abuse or violence can have negative long-term effects on your life. This is why it is often wise to do everything you can to pursue the best possible outcome in court.