How To File Protective Orders In Virginia

If you’re being threatened, stalked, or subjected to acts of violence by someone else, you can seek a protective order to protect yourself from further aggression. However, these orders are a complex topic governed by specific laws, so not all victims understand how to file protective orders in Virginia. In this blog, we explain the various types available in this state and how to file for them when you need safety.

When Can You Request a Protective Order?

You may request a protective order if you are being threatened or physically assaulted by the following parties:

  • Someone you are related to by blood or marriage (such as a current or former spouse, a parent or stepparent, a sibling or step-sibling, etc.), regardless of whether or not you live with them
  • In-laws (if you live with them)
  • Anyone with whom you have a child, regardless of whether you ever married or lived together
  • Anyone with whom you have lived in an intimate relationship in the last 12 months, or their child

Protective orders can also be issued against someone who has threatened, attacked, or stalked you, even if they don’t meet any of the criteria above. Once in effect, the order permits you to call the police if the abuser continues to stalk or harass you or otherwise violate the conditions.

Types of Protective Orders and How to File for Them

Virginia offers three types of protective orders, each of which has its own filing requirement:

  • Emergency Protective Order (EPO): You can get an EPO when the courts are closed or immediately after your abuser has been ‌arrested. ‌You must swear under oath that you were threatened or harmed and that you are at risk of further harm. The court will also issue an emergency protective order if they determine that the respondent has been charged with a crime that involves threats or violence. EPOs expire after 72 hours or when the courts reopen, whichever is later.
  • Preliminary Protective Order (PPO): PPOs are temporary protective orders that take effect as soon as they’re served on the respondent. You must file a petition in court and indicate that you’ve been threatened or harmed for a considerable period of time. Within 15 days of the PPO being issued,‌ ‌a‌ ‌hearing‌ ‌regarding‌ ‌a permanent‌ ‌protective‌ ‌order‌ ‌must‌ ‌be‌ ‌held.
  • Permanent Protective Order (PO): Permanent protective orders (POs) last for a maximum of two years, with a two-year extension possible after a complete hearing. Unlike EPOs and PPOs, which can be issued in the absence of the respondent, your abuser will typically receive notice of the hearing and be given a chance to tell their side of the story. If they fail to appear, the court will make a determination based on your evidence.

In the case of threats or injuries caused by a family member or household member, you will file the case in‌ ‌Juvenile‌ ‌&‌ ‌Domestic‌ ‌Relations‌ ‌District‌ ‌Court. ‌You will file a petition at the General District Court if the threats or injuries are made by someone who does not fit the definition of a family or household member.

Once issued, a protective order will place certain restrictions on your abuser. For example, a no-contact order prohibits them from communicating with you directly or indirectly while a peaceful contact provision permits non-aggressive communication on restricted grounds. The respondent may also be ordered to stay away from you, move out, relinquish firearms and/or  receive counseling.

Get a Confidential Consultation With a Virginia Protective Order Lawyer

Are‌ ‌you‌ ‌frightened for your safety because another person stalks, abuses, or threatens you? ‌Our legal team can assist you in obtaining a protective order against the offender. At the Law Offices of Robert Dawson, we provide representation you can trust as you move toward a life without threats or fear. To speak to a Virginia protective order attorney, contact us today.

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Law Office of Robert Dawson

You have more power than you realize. If you need a professional attorney who has built a reputation within employment and business law, contact the Law Offices of Robert Dawson. We are passionate about protecting our clients and pursuing their interests. Contact us for tailored legal solutions.

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