If you or a loved one have been victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking, or have reasonable fear you are in danger of family abuse you should take necessary precautions to ensure your safety. While you go through a healing process, you should file for a protective order to reduce the chances of the assault or abuse from happening again. But how do you file a protective order?
To initiate the process, you/the victim must file a petition at their local Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court. It’s advisable to consult with an attorney or a domestic violence service provider to complete the necessary forms and understand the legal process.
Process of filing a protective order in Virginia
To file a protective order in Virginia, you first need to determine if you qualify to get a protective order. If you do, you can follow these general steps:
- Determine the appropriate protective order: There are three kinds of protective orders: Permanent Protective Order (PPO), Emergency Protective Order (EPO), and Preliminary Protective Order (PPO). Assess which type is suitable for your situation before filing.
- Obtain the necessary forms: Visit your local Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court (JDRDC) or Circuit Court in Virginia and request the forms for filing a protective order.
- Fill out the forms: Complete the forms accurately and provide detailed information about the incidents and why you seek a restraining order. Provide as much relevant information as possible to strengthen your case.
- Visit the courthouse: Take the completed forms and supporting documents (such as police reports, medical records, or witness statements) to the appropriate courthouse. Submit the forms to the clerk’s office. If you’re unsure which court handles restraining orders, call the court beforehand or check their website.
- Review and sign: The judge or magistrate will review your application and may ask you to provide additional information. Be prepared to answer any questions they may have. If the judge finds your case meets the requirements, they will issue the restraining order.
- Serve the protective order: Once the order is issued, it needs to be served to the respondent (the person you seek protection from). You can hire a professional process server or contact your local sheriff’s office for assistance with serving the order.
- Follow up: Attend any scheduled protective order hearing and provide any additional information or evidence requested by the court. Keep copies of the restraining order with you at all times and inform local law enforcement about its existence if necessary.
Remember, this is a general outline of the process, and it’s always advisable to consult with an experienced attorney to ensure you’re following the correct procedures and to get personalized advice based on your specific circumstances.
Which forms do I need for a protective order in Virginia?
When you file for a restraining order in the Juvenile and domestic relations district court, you’ll fill out Form DC 611, and in the general district court, you will fill out Form DC 383.
In these forms, you’ll provide information about the individual you need protection from, your relationship with the named person, and why you need the protection. You might also have to fill in an affidavit to prove good cause for getting a protective order.
Can my abuser know my phone number or address from the order?
According to VA. Code §§ 19.2-152.10(H), court officials and law enforcement officers aren’t allowed to disclose your phone number, place of employment, or residential address to the respondent or any person.
But if your abuser knows your residence, you can move to a new home and enter the Address Confidentiality Program. This discrete mail forwarding program is designed to keep the new address private. ACP mail forwarding service is free and allows participants to substitute their mailing address in place of their home address. The real address is only available to law enforcement officers and employees in the Address Confidentiality Program (ACP).
Note: The Address Confidentiality Program doesn’t offer absolute protection. Instead, it’s part of a safety plan that encompasses shelter services if needed.
Will my protection order appear on internet searches?
In the US, all states, tribal lands, and territories adhere to federal law on this. The courts shouldn’t provide information revealing your identity or location online. This applies to protection orders, petitions filed, and registration of an order in another state.
What is I-CAN Virginia?
I-CAN Virginia is a free online program to help people complete forms to file and request protective orders. The program asks about the specific situation and adds your responses to the right court forms you can print and file in the appropriate courts.
However, filling out the form doesn’t constitute filing for your protective order. You still have to deliver the forms to the respective court.
Hire Battlefield Law Group, PLLC
At face value, filing a protective order is a simple process. But when you factor in the trauma you’re going through and the not-so-easy-to-navigate government sites that make the process time-consuming, you’d rather have an expert handle the process for you.
Domestic abuse attorneys at Battlefield Law Group, PLLC, understand the steps needed to file for a protective order and can guide you on whether you qualify. They’ll also remain by your side when the respondent decides to fight back.