If you are a victim of domestic violence, you have a right to pursue a protective order in Virginia, also known as a restraining order. A protective order is issued by a court to protect you from the person who is abusing, harassing or threatening you.
The order may prevent the abuser from contacting you or appearing at your home or workplace. In some situations, it may also prevent your abuser from having access to firearms or other weapons.
Protective order process
To request a protective order, you must complete a petition detailing the abuse, harassment or threats, your relationship with the abuser and any other information you believe is relevant to include.
Depending on the situation, there are several types of protective orders to consider requesting. An emergency protective order is issued when you are in immediate danger. It is valid temporarily.
You can also request a preliminary protective order, where there is no notice to your abuser. This is also issued temporarily until the court can schedule a full hearing. Similarly, you may choose to request a temporary protective order after both parties have an opportunity to attend a hearing in front of a judge.
In some situations, the court may order a permanent protective order, which can be valid for a few years or longer.
Compliance with the order
The abuser must comply with the court’s order and there are serious consequences if they do not. They can face jail time and fines, with additional penalties for aggravating factors. If your abuser violates the order, it’s important to inform the court.