Misha Lopez discusses potential consequences you may face if a protective order is entered against you.
Today, the issuance of protective orders is more prevalent than ever. There are three types of protective orders:
- Emergency protective orders
- Preliminary protective orders
- Permanent protective orders
There are two types of courts that primarily issue all three types of protective orders:
- Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court (J&DR)
- General District Court (GDC)
The consequences that arise once a protective order is entered against a person (the respondent) are substantial. Though technically considered civil proceedings, protective orders have a close relationship to criminal law. The consequences of having a protective order entered often include restrictions on constitutional rights in addition to financial obligations. Violations of protective orders bring about serious criminal charges.
Protective Order Respondents Cannot Have Contact with the Petitioner
The Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court (J&DR), as well as the General District Court (GDC), have broad discretion when imposing conditions on a respondent. All protective orders prohibit contact between the person seeking the protective order (the petitioner) and the respondent, but such orders can also require the respondent to not contact other family members or household members, as required by the court.
Protective Orders can have Property and Non-Property Consequences
Protective orders can have substantial property consequences. For example, a court can require the respondent to give sole possession of a home or vehicle to the petitioner. A protective order can also require the respondent to arrange for “suitable alternative housing,” which includes making certain payments in connection with those arrangements.
In addition to property related conditions, the court can require the respondent to attend treatment, counseling or other programs. These programs can include anger management, psychological treatment, substance abuse, and other types of counseling. The court can also enter a temporary child support order as part of the protective order, requiring the respondent to pay for dependents he otherwise would support.
Protective Order Respondents Cannot Possess a Firearm
Another consequence of protective orders, whether explicitly ordered by the court or not, is that the respondent cannot possess a firearm. Section 922(g) of the United States Code, which defines the federal laws, prohibits any respondent who has a protective order issued against him or her from possessing or transporting firearms. If the respondent does possess or transport a firearm, they face serious consequences.
Virginia law expands on the provisions of the federal law. Code of Virginia Section 18.2-308.1:4 punishes the purchase and transportation of firearms. That section also requires any owner of a concealed weapon permit to surrender it during the life of the protective order. Failure to abide by these conditions is treated as a class 1 misdemeanor.
What Happens if you Violate a Protective Order?
Violation of any other provision of the protective order is also considered a class 1 misdemeanor. Class 1 misdemeanors in Virginia are punishable up to a year in jail, a $2,500.00 fine, or both, and the conviction will remain on your record for life.
Protective orders, like criminal convictions, are also recorded and stored for future review by police, judges, and the public. Currently, the expungement law does not explicitly address protective orders and whether they can be erased if they are denied. Thus, some courts do not permit expungement of protective orders, even if denied, wrongfully entered, or otherwise dismissed.
If you are fighting a protective order, it is vital to make sure your case is presented fully and accurately to a judge so they may make the proper determination. If you are party to a protective order, call the trusted attorney at Greenspun Shapiro PC. We can assist in requesting and defending protective orders, and we are prepared to help you as needed. Contact or Fairfax law office at (703) 352-0100.