When a person harms, stalks, or threatens to harm another, it can be harrowing to the victim. In many areas, there are laws that provide for protection from such individuals. An order of protection is a court order that serves to help protect victims of harmful or threatening behavior from further harm. This order generally makes it easier for police to arrest the perpetrator as well, should he violate the terms of the order.
An order of protection clearly defines what a defendant can or cannot do. For instance, he may be ordered to stay away from the victim’s home or workplace. It may also preclude the defendant from possessing firearms, even if he owned one before the order was issued. Should this order be violated, the victim can call the police and have the defendant arrested. Consequences of violating the order can include jail time.
If a person feels harmed, threatened, or harassed, he can go to court to have an order of protection issued against his alleged abuser. To do this, the victim first can schedule a hearing, and then both the victim and the alleged abuser will usually have both sides of their case heard. At this hearing, the victim can present all the evidence he has against the alleged abuser, such as harassing e-mails and answering machine recordings. Once the judge hears both sides of the story and sees the evidence, he can choose whether or not to issue the order.
Should the victim feel as if he would be in immediate danger, he can have an emergency order, called an ex parte, issued. An ex parte order is a temporary order of protection that is put in place before the official hearing. This order tells the alleged abuser to stay away from the victim until they both appear on the issued court date. With any type of protection order, the alleged abuser will have to be served with the order before it goes into effect. It is often the responsibility of the victim to have it served, and usually this is best handled by the appropriate police department or through a hired server.
There may be concern that an order of protection will not do enough to prevent future violence. Some critics say it is only a piece of paper which can be easily violated. Though the order may make it easier to arrest the defendant, it may do no good if he harms the victim while violating the order. Still, orders of protection are one way the law helps to protect victims from those who seek to harm them.