Q: What is an Order of Protection?
A: An Order of Protection is an order issued by a judge to protect a victim of domestic violence. The order states the abuser must stay away from the home shared with the victim, the abuser must stay away from the victim's place of work and/or school, the abuser must not contact, even through someone else, the victim. These orders are documents that do not stop an abuser from hurting or stalking the victim. However, if the abuser violates the order, the victim can call the police and the abuser can be arrested.
Q: Where do I file for an Order of Protection?
A: Go to the office of the circuit clerk nearest to you. The clerks there will have forms called petitions for Orders of Protection. The clerks will provide you with these forms and along with clerical assistance. They cannot tell you what to say. They cannot provide you with legal advice.
Q: Where can I find more information about Orders of Protection?
A: To help you through the process, this site has interactive forms as well as video instructions. Please go here.
Q: What is the difference between an Order of Protection and a Restraining Order?
A: There are several. Here are a couple of those differences: 1. Orders of Protection are initiated by the victim and granted by the judge. However, Restraining Orders are most often issued by the judge at the beginning or end of a lawsuit to keep the peace between people going through a divorce, custody, paternity or other family law issues. 2. Orders of Protection provide a direct process to have the violator arrested - if the abuser is found to have violated the order of protection, they can be arrested by law enforcement. However, Restraining Orders require the judge to find a violation has occurred. If after a hearing, the judge finds a violation has occurred, the judge will find the violator in contempt of court. The judge may at that time require the violator to pay court costs and fees, to serve some time in jail and or to pay attorney's fees.
Q: What is a No Contact Order?
A: No Contact Orders are issued by judges as a condition for release from jail or in the process of a criminal trial. If the judge has issued a No Contact Order, it is the responsibility of the defendant to have no contact with the victim. Victims cannot ask that a No Contact Order be lifted. If the judge finds that a defendant has violated a No Contact Order, the judge has many options but could order house arrest, incarceration, or electronic monitoring.
Q: My judge has ordered that I attend a domestic violence class. Where do I go?
A: Contact your district court clerks office, they have a list of providers.
Q: Which judges hear cases involving domestic abuse?
A: The answer depends on the issues involved in the case but also depend on the way the circuits arranges which judges will hear which cases. Circuit court judge preside over cases involving allegations of domestic abuse in cases like divorce, custody, visitation, and paternity. Circuit court judges also preside over criminal cases involving allegations of felony domestic abuse. Many times circuit court judges will also preside over cases involving petitions for Orders of Protection. However, district court judges will also preside over cases involving petitions for Orders of Protection. District court judges also preside over cases involving allegations of misdemeanor domestic abuse.