There are three types of protective orders in Virginia. These protective orders, often known as restraining orders in other states, are meant to protect you from different potentially harmful situations such as physical injury, sexual assault, or death. Before you can get this protection, however, you need to know which type of protective order to request and how to get it.
How to Get an Emergency Protective Order in Virginia
You can request an emergency protective order 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
As the name suggests, emergency protective orders seek to protect you in emergency situations. Unlike other forms of protective orders, which will be discussed below, notice does not have to be provided to the person from whom you seek protection. However, a copy of the protective order must be provided to that person as soon as possible in order for it to be enforced.
Emergency protective orders are only in place for three days (or if court is not in session on the third day, until the next day that the court is in session), but they are often a necessary first step if a family member or someone else is in immediate danger.
According to Virginia Code § 16.1-253.4 and §19.2-152.8, a law enforcement officer or an allegedly abused person may seek an emergency protective order by going before a judge or magistrate in a circuit court, general district court, or juvenile and domestic relations district court. This emergency protective order can go hand in hand with the criminal charge to protect the victim of a violent crime.
Three days is rarely enough protection for people who face threats of injury, assault, or death. Therefore, Virginia law requires the judge or magistrate who issues the emergency protective to provide the law enforcement officer or allegedly abused person with the form for filing a preliminary protective order.
How to Get a Preliminary Protective Order in Virginia
To secure continuous protection, you may file for a preliminary protective order before your emergency protective order expires, or you may file for a preliminary protective order without ever having sought an emergency protective order.
If you are seeking protection from a relative or household member, then you should file for a preliminary protective order in the juvenile and domestic relations district court. If you are seeking protection from anyone else, then you should file your petition in general district court.
Either court will require you to fill out specific forms, known as Form DC 383 in general district court and Form DC 611 in juvenile and domestic relations district court. Both of these forms will ask for information about the person from whom you are seeking protection, why you are seeking protection, and the relationship, if any, between you and the person from whom you are seeking protection. You may also be required to file an affidavit to show good cause for seeking a protective order. Your forms should be filed with the court’s clerk’s office. A judge may then ask you questions in a courtroom before ruling on the protective order.
Before the protective order has any effect, it must be served on the person from whom you are seeking protection. A law enforcement official or court official will serve the protective order for you.
Once the court grants a protective order, it remains in place for 15 days or until the date for a full protective order hearing.
How to Get a Permanent Protective Order in Virginia
Emergency and preliminary protective orders are immediately important to prevent imminent injuries. However, many people need long-term protection that goes well beyond the time a preliminary protective order is in place.
You can seek a permanent protective order, also known as a final protective order or a two-year protective order. The forms and affidavit that you completed for your preliminary protective order begin the procedure for seeking a permanent protective order.
To obtain a permanent protective order, however, a hearing is usually required. At the court hearing, you will need to convince the court that your safety is at risk and you feel reasonable apprehension of imminent harm.
How to Get the Protective Order You Need
While the procedures for obtaining a protective order against a family member or someone else are very similar, the protective orders are filed in different courts with different forms. If you are in danger, then you must request the right protective order according to the procedures set forth in Virginia law.
Do not take any chances with your safety. Instead, contact our experienced Virginia protective order lawyers and schedule a meeting as soon as possible to make sure that you do everything possible to stay safe.