What is a protective order?

A protective order is a civil order from a judge that tells the abuser he or she must:
  1. not abuse, harass, or disturb the peace of the victim or any member of the victim's household, in any place, public or private;
  2. not contact the victim or any member of the victim's household, directly or indirectly;
  3. not enter the property of the victim; and
  4. not destroy any of the victim's property.

Who Can Get a Protective Order?

A victim of domestic violence or a parent, guardian, or other representative of a child victim may file for a protective order against a family or household member who commits an act of domestic violence. Additionally, a victim of sexual assault or stalking, or a parent, guardian, or other representative of a child victim may file for a protective order against any person who has committed a stalking or sex offense.

What Happens If the Abuser Violates the Protective Order?

The violation of a protective order may result in the respondent’s arrest for violation of the protective order and/or additional crimes, such as stalking or property damage. The violation of a protective order may also constitute contempt of court.

What Are the Advantages of Protective Orders?
  • Increased police responsiveness
    Protective orders enable police to intervene before violence occurs, rather than after.
  • Speedy remedy
    Protective order proceedings can provide relief more quickly than the criminal system. Protective orders require a lower burden of proof found in a civil proceeding, rather than a requiring a criminal conviction. Emergency protective orders can be issued ex parte, meaning without a hearing, based solely on the sworn statement of the victim.
  • Comprehensive relief
    Civil protective orders may provide more complete relief than the criminal system can. Some victims can petition for custody, spousal maintenance and child support, counseling, and eviction of the abuser from the home, all in the context of a protective order. Under certain circumstances, clients can petition the court to order the abuser to surrender any firearms he or she owns.
  • No cost
    There is no fee for obtaining a protective order if client is or fears he or she will be the victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

What Are the Advantages of Using the Protective Order Project?

  • Reponse time
    POP volunteers check voicemails during office hours every weekday. Our law student volunteers will make every effort to provide you with courteous and reasonably prompt responses to your questions and requests.
  • Preparing for a Hearing & Representation
    If we are able to take your case and the court has or does set a hearing, then we will do our best to find you a volunteer attorney. Because of the short notice on which hearings are often set, though, we cannot guarantee to find you an attorney in time. If we are not able to find you a lawyer, we will still try our best to help you prepare for the hearing as much as we can. If you have other free or low-cost legal help, you may want to continue those efforts while we search for a volunteer attorney for you.
  • Team of competent and dedicated advocates
    At least three student volunteers, who have received special traning in protective order law, and a volunteer attorney from the community are assigned to each client. POP is a volunteer organization, which means that its representatives are genuinely interested in helping clients to protect themselves and better their lives. Volunteers are available to answer clients' questions and explain the legal system which can be confusing and intimidating to many people.
  • Understanding
    POP volunteers receive special training on domestic violence and many have experience working with victims of domestic violence, so they are sensitive to the unique challenges faced by many clients.
  • Confidentiality
    POP will treat all information that you give during an intake or at any later point, as strictly confidential. POP will not share your information with anyone except as required in your legal papers, which you will review before they are filed with the court; as ordered by a judge; as otherwise required by law; or as you authorize us to share.