Virginia Protective Orders
- What types of protective orders are available in cases of family abuse?
There are a few different types of protective order designed to offer protections against an abusive family or household member.
- Emergency Protective Order: This order is a “cooling off” order and expires 72 hours within issuance (if the expiration period falls during a time when the courts are closed, the order expires at 5:00 p.m. on the next business day that the juvenile and domestic relations district court is in session). The petition may be filed by the abuse victim or a law enforcement officer. The EPO cannot be used as evidence of wrongdoing by the alleged abuser.
- Preliminary Protective Order: A PPO will be issued upon the petition of a person who is, or has been, within a reasonable period of time, subjected to family abuse. The order stays in effect until there is a full hearing on the issue of whether the PPO should be continued. This hearing is typically held within 15 days of the issuance of the PPO.
- Protective Order: Following a full hearing after the issuance of a PPO, the court may issue a protective order. If granted, the protective order will remain in effect for two years (or less time if specified by the court).
- I recently moved to Virginia from another state. I had obtained a restraining order against my abusive ex in my former state. Do I need to get a new protective order now that I live in Virginia?
No. Assuming the other court gave your ex-husband notice of the proceeding and gave him an opportunity to be heard, your order will be enforced here as if it was issued by a Virginian court. You should file an attested copy of the order with any juvenile and domestic relations court or family court. Once you have done so, the court will forward the order to your local police department to be entered into their system.
- My ex-girlfriend obtained a protective order against me when we were dating. Since then, we have broken up and now I’m married to someone else. I have no contact with my ex and have heard that she moved to another part of the state. I have no intention of seeing her again, and the existence of the protective order is causing me problems. Can I ask the court to drop the protective order before it expires?
Yes. Either party may at any time file a written motion with the court requesting a hearing to dissolve or modify the order. The court gives these types of motions priority over other matters, so you are likely to get a (relatively) quick hearing on your motion.
- My wife obtained a protective order against me. The order prohibits me from going to her house or having any contact with her. I really want to talk to her about it, because I think the whole thing is a big misunderstanding. What are the consequences of going over to talk to her, even though the order prohibits me from doing so?
Virginia takes protective orders very seriously. At least some jail time is mandatory if you are convicted of even a single violation of the protective order. Multiple violations within a certain number of years require mandatory minimum sentences ranging from 60 days to 6 months.