Virginia residents can obtain a protective order against someone who they believe is a danger to their health or safety. Protective orders are designed to help domestic violence victims; however, people with protective orders entered against them may face damage to their careers and personal relationships.
There are three types of protective orders in Virginia:
- Emergency protective order
- Preliminary protective order
- Final protective order
If you want to file a protective order against someone, after filing for the order you will be issued an emergency protective order. You are the plaintiff and the person you filed against is the defendant. This order lasts until the next time court is held, or at the end of the third day following the day the order is issued.
The first hearing is just you and the judge
You will meet with a judge the next time court is in session. The judge will decide whether to grant a preliminary protective order. If one is granted, you will receive a date for a full hearing. At the full hearing, the defendant will have an opportunity to appear at the hearing and defend themselves.
A preliminary protective order lasts for up to 15 days or until your hearing date. You can receive a final protective order for up to 2 years if you prove that you are a victim of any act involving violence, force or a threat that results in bodily injury. You may also receive a protective order if you prove that you are in fear of bodily injury, death or sexual assault.
What if the defendant doesn’t appear?
If the defendant does not show up at the hearing, you can receive a final protective order by simply asking the judge to grant you one. However, the defendant must be served with a copy of the preliminary protective order and be given notice of the date and time of the hearing, in accordance with their due process rights.
Even with a basic understanding of the protective order process and what must be proven to obtain a final order, speaking with an attorney may be helpful. The circumstances involved in protective order cases often involve many different factors and an attorney can provide the advice tailored to your specific situation.