Domestic violence is no joke, but sadly many Virginians find themselves caught up in an allegedly violent situation with a loved one. A family member, romantic partner or others in your home who assert you have committed an act of violence against them might seek a Permanent Protective Order (PO).
After a hearing, a judge can issue a PO against you.
The PO will last up to two years. In addition, the other party can move the court for an extension beyond those two years if there is a demonstrated need. There is no limit to the number of times your PO can be extended.
A PO can majorly affect your rights and freedoms. It can restrict where you can live, cause you to lose custody of your children, cause you to lose your motor vehicle and pets and show up on a criminal background check. If you violate a PO — even unintentionally — you might be found in contempt of court and might have to serve jail time.
Family abuse permanent protective orders
Your rights are specifically at risk if you are subjected to a family abuse permanent protective order.
Family abuse includes any act of violence, force or threat that causes physical injuries or reasonably makes the other party fear for their life, fear they will be sexually assaulted or fear they will by physically harmed.
Family abuse can only be committed against a family or household member, including a spouse or ex-spouse, child, or your child’s other parent, amongst others even if they do not reside with you.
If you are under a family abuse permanent protective order, you cannot own a firearm. You have 24 hours from the time the order is served to give away or sell your firearms to someone who can legally possess them. After that, you cannot possess firearms or even reside in a household where you might have access to someone else’s firearm.
If, after the 24-hour transfer period has passed, you are found in possession of a firearm you can be charged with a Class 6 Felony. This can subject you to a prison term of five years, and the continued loss of your right to possess a firearm.
Unfortunately, allegations of domestic violence can turn into a he-said-she-said situation that ultimately does not work out in your favor. If you are subjected to a PO, especially a family abuse permanent protective order, your freedoms will be curtailed, and you could face penalties for violating the order.