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What should I do if I am served with an Order of Protection?

Stephen Vincent

Not sure what you are supposed to do if you are served with an Order of Protection?

Here’s what you should do:

1. You need to obey the Order of Protection whenever it is in effect. It went into effect the moment it was served on you. If a judge ordered you to not contact someone or even leave your home, you need to obey it. This does not waive your right to challenge the Order of Protection later. But obeying the Order of Protection will prevent you from being arrested for violating it.

2. If the other party texts or emails you, don’t respond. If you are under a court order to not have contact with the other party, and they text or email you, don’t respond. They could be setting you up.

3. Contact an attorney before you request a hearing. The most common mistake people make is scheduling their trial and then trying to find an attorney. This is why that may be a bad decision:

  • You may not be able to find a good attorney to represent you on such short notice. A trial on an Order of Protection gets set quickly, sometimes as soon as three days from when you request it. Attorneys tend to have very busy schedules, and most attorneys do not have availability to take on a trial set that quickly. So you may find yourself either having to represent yourself at trial or being represented by a lower-quality attorney in a trial that can have lasting consequences.
  • You may not yet have the evidence you need to best defend yourself. You do not want to go trial without the evidence you need to best defend yourself. It is far better to hire an attorney first and let your attorney request the hearing.

If you contact an attorney before scheduling your hearing, you can go trial under the best circumstances for you to succeed

4. Have an attorney review the Order of Protection with you. We find that a lot of people are confused by what the actual Order of Protection orders are. Frequently, a person is served with both the Petition for an Order of Protection and the Order of Protection. We have found many people struggle to tell which one is the order. For instance, a person will inform us that the judge ordered that they cannot have any contact with their child or the judge ordered that they cannot have any firearms. But when we read the Order of Protection, we frequently find that these were merely requests made by the person seeking an Order of Protection, but the judge did not include those orders on the Order of Protection itself. Similarly, we often hear people say they are not allowed to even speak with the other party about the children they have together, yet in most Orders of Protection, this is a common exception to the no-contact order. For this reason, it is useful to meet with an attorney regarding your obligations under the Order of Protection.

5. If a custody case is pending, consider whether challenging the Order of Protection is worthwhile. If the other parent has taken out an Order of Protection against you, and you challenge it and lose, it may count as a finding of domestic violence against you that can jeopardize your ability to receive legal decision-making or parenting time. For this reason, it may be strategic to not challenge an Order of Protection. If you are in this situation, you should consult with an attorney before deciding whether to challenge the Order of Protection.

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