Virginia Protective Orders – A General Overview of the Process and Differences Between Courts and Types of Protective Orders (Part 2)

Mikhail N. Lopez
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Criminal Defense and General Civil Litigation Attorney

Permanent protective orders in VA can last up to two years, Misha Lopez explains. Contact us for experienced help with Virginia protective orders.

As discussed in Part 1 of this blog series, protective orders can be filed in two different courts:

  • Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court (J&DR)
  • General District Court (GDC)

If the injuries or threats were made by a “family or household member”, then the case will need to be filed in the J&DR.

On the other hand, if the injuries or threats are made by someone who does not fall within the “family or household member” definition, then the case must be filed in GDC.  Identifying the court in which you need to file is important because filing in the wrong court can result in the case being dismissed or transferred to a different court.

There are three types of protective orders that can be filed in either court:

  • Emergency Protective Orders
  • Preliminary Protective Orders
  • Permanent Protective Orders

Today I will discuss permanent protective orders. View my previous post to learn about emergency protective orders and preliminary protective orders.

Permanent Protective Orders

The final type of protective order is the permanent protective order, which is defined by Sections 19.2-152.10 (non-family/household member cases) and 16.1-279.1 (family/household member cases).  The biggest difference between the permanent protective order and preliminary or emergency protective orders is the amount of time for which it lasts.  A permanent protective order lasts up to two years, and it may be extended by an additional two years upon a full hearing before the issuing court.

Another key difference between permanent protective orders and preliminary or emergency protective orders is the process afforded to the respondent.  Emergency and preliminary protective orders may both be entered “ex parte,” which means the respondent is not required to be present to tell his or her side of the story prior to the judge making a determination of whether one of the temporary protective orders should be issued.

In contrast, before a permanent protective order can be entered, the respondent must receive notice of the hearing and have the opportunity to contest it. If the respondent has been notified of the hearing and chooses not to show, the judge will hear any evidence from the petitioner and will make a decision based on that alone. Therefore, it is always important for the respondent to appear in court.

The standards for issuing a permanent protective order are also slightly different.  If a J&DR judge is making the determination, that judge must determine whether there was an act of “family abuse,” which has a specific definition in the Code of Virginia.  If “any act involving violence, force, or threat that results in bodily injury” is presented, then family abuse has occurred.  However, the court may also find “family abuse” if the respondent has put the petitioner “in reasonable apprehension of” injury or commission of a crime.  A finding of either will justify the issuance of a permanent protective order.

On the other hand, a GDC judge has different, though similar, criteria to follow when deciding whether a protective order should be issued.  A GDC judge must either find that the respondent has been charged with, or convicted of, a criminal offense involving violence or threat, or find that the petitioner, based on evidence presented at the hearing, was subjected to violence or threats “within a reasonable period of time.”

The Attorneys at Greenspun Shapiro PC Can Help

Whether requesting or fighting a protective order, there are high stakes for both parties.  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 a trusted Fairfax attorney at Greenspun Shapiro PC. We routinely assist in requesting and defending protective orders, and we are ready to help you as needed.

Let’s discuss your legal situation during an initial consultation. To begin, schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys by calling (703) 352-0100.

Related: The Consequences Of Protective Orders

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