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Obtaining an Order of Protection as the Victim of Domestic Violence

Orders of protection can be obtained by a person who feels that another individual has committed a crime or a family offense against them. They are typically issued by a judge in Family Court when a victim of domestic violence feels threatened or has been hurt by his or her abuser. An Order of protection can be an important tool in providing safety to victims and offer legal protection by the Courts and/or the police if the abuser comes in contact with or threatens the victim in violation of the terms of the order of protection.

Most commonly, obtaining an order of protection will prohibit the abuser from contacting the victim such as by calling, texting, stalking, attacking, emailing, physical aggression, or otherwise disturbing the victim. It may also mandate the abuser to stay away from the victim and the places most often frequented by the victim such as his or her home, school, job, etc.

Other provisions in an order of protection may require the abuser to move out of a shared residence with the victim, attend anger management counseling, or that the abuser surrender any firearms or weapons he or she owns in extreme cases of violence and abuse.

While orders of protection are generally used as a tool to keep the abuser away from the victim, they may facilitate peaceful contact for certain reasons such as caring for a child. If the victim and abuser are parents to the same child, a judge may allow the abuser limited communication with the victim to arrange visits with the child and obtain updates regarding the child’s well-being. However, if evidence arises to suggest that the communication is not peaceful, the judge can revoke this communication.

Although filed by the immediate victim of the abuser, orders of protection may extend to children, family members, persons who reside with the victim and even pets of the victim. At times, the restrictions set forth in the protective order that apply to the victim may also protect other parties. An order of protection generally lasts for one to five years but can persist for the lifetime of the abuser in cases where the abuse was more extreme. A victim has the opportunity to renew an expired order of protection if it is believed that he or she is still at risk of suffering an attack by the abuser.

Subjects of orders of protection who violate its provisions are could face arrest and/or criminal charges ranging from contempt of court to other misdemeanors and/or felonies.

Obtaining an order of protection requires filing the necessary legal documents with the court and evidence that the individual against whom you are seeking an order of protection committed an offense against you. Therefore, it is important to document any visible injuries you, your children, pets, or property sustained, as well as any threatening messages toward you or any admissions made by the abuser to the allegation you are making against him or her. It is also important to consider who may have witnessed the abuse and provide his or her contact information to the police and your attorney so they can obtain a statement from the witness.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of domestic violence, it is important to seek help immediately. Police officers and an experienced family offense lawyer can help you to end the abuse by filing for an order of protection on your behalf and/or criminal charges. If you have questions about filing for an order of protection, contact an experienced Suffolk County divorce lawyers. Call Heather A. Fig at office or use our contact form.

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