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Orders of Protection

An order of protection is a court order intended to protect an individual on whose behalf it is issued, from acts of violence, harassment, abuse, and stalking, or other types of unacceptable behavior, on the part of another person. In the criminal courts such orders are available to anyone who has filed a charge and who feel they are in danger from another person. The individual seeking the order of protection is called the "complaining witness" or "victim" and the individual to whom it is being sought against is called the "defendant."

Temporary Orders vs. Final Orders of Protection

The court issues a temporary order of protection before a final determination is made as to the underlying offense. The court has the authority to issue temporary orders if it determines there is a credible basis in the request for an order of protection. Issuance of a temporary order of protection does not mean the underlying allegations are proven. That will be determined during the prosecution of the case. At the completion of the case if the defendant is found guilty or pleads guilty to a criminal charge, the Court will then issue a final order of protection.

Types of Orders of Protection

There are two types of orders of protection issued in a criminal court case. They are as follows.

A full no contact order of protection: This order of protection directs the defendant to stay away from the victims' home, school, business, and place of employment. It also directs the defendant to refrain from communication with the victim, such as contact by telephone, mail, email, and voicemail and through a third party. These orders prohibit any contact with the victim.

A limited order of protection: Directs the defendant to refrain from assault, stalking, harassment, menacing, reckless endangerment, disorderly contact, intimidation, threats or any criminal offense or interference with the victim, designated witnesses to, the alleged offense and such members of the family or household of such victims or witnesses. This order of protection permits contact between the defendant and victim as long as the contact does not include any of the conduct listed above.

How to request an order of protection

The victim can request an order of protection if a criminal charge has been filed. The request can be made through the police agency that the crime has been reported to, the District Attorney's office, the victim assistance program or the Court. Even if the victim does not request or wish an order of protection, the Court or the District Attorney's office may request on the victims' behalf.

Orders of protection may be requested but remains solely in the courts discretion.