There was a time, not all that long ago, when domestic abuse was not taken very seriously in the United States. Unless an abuser seriously injured a victim, domestic abuse was viewed as a private family matter. Consequently, law enforcement officers usually did not intervene, and if they did, courts rarely punished the abuser. Times have certainly changed! One way that the law has changed in an effort to protect victims is found in the ability of an alleged victim to secure an order of protection relatively easily. A Murfreesboro criminal defense attorney explains how to get an Order of Protection in Tennessee.
Order of Protection, Restraining Order, No Contact Order
The terms Order of Protection, Restraining Order, and No Contact Order are frequently used interchangeably when, in fact, they are actually three different legal tools. State law governs which of these types of orders are available and the exact criteria necessary to get one; however, the general concept is usually similar among the states.
A Restraining Order is a civil order that prohibits someone from doing something. It might be used in business to prohibit an employee from breaching the terms of a non-compete agreement or it might prohibit a neighbor from harassing you. It is not, however, designed to address domestic abuse situations.
An Order of Protection is typically issued by a criminal court or a family court and is designed specifically for domestic abuse situations. Usually, the Respondent must fit into a much more narrow category that may include family or someone you lived with and/or have had a dating relationship with at some time in the recent past. This type of order prohibits threatening contact or may prohibit any contact at all. Unlike the other types of orders, this type can also include the Petitioner’s children.
A No Contact Order is always issued by a criminal court as part of a criminal case. When there is a victim involved in the case, the court will often make a No Contact Order part of the defendant’s conditions of release. This type of order prohibits the defendant from having any contact with the alleged victim throughout the pendency of the case.
How to Get a Protective Order in Tennessee
The steps required to obtain a protective order will vary somewhat by county; however, you will typically be able to obtain the forms necessary to request an Order of Protection from the Clerk’s Office. When filling out the forms, be as detailed and specific as possible, particularly if you are asking for the order to extend to your children. Once the forms are complete you will turn them into the court and a judge will review them within a very short period of time. Unlike most other petitions, a temporary Order of Protection may be issued ex parte. This means that the judge may issue the order without the Respondent having the opportunity to be heard first. This is done to protect victims of domestic violence who cannot wait for a court date. If the judge does sign the order it must still be served on the Respondent by the Civil Sheriff’s Office. Once the Respondent has been served, the order is active. If the order is a temporary order, the court will set a court date which allows the Respondent to tell his/her side. At that time, the temporary order will be made permanent or be dismissed. Until that time, the order is in effect. If the Respondent violates the Order of Protection, he/she faces up to 10 days in jail for every single violation. You must report the violation immediately though for the protective order to work as intended.
Do I Need an Attorney for an Order of Protection?
You are not required to hire an attorney; however, you may retain one if you wish. Likewise, the Respondent may have an attorney with him/her at the hearing if he/she plans to contest the order. If you have been served with a temporary Order of Protection, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney because being the subject of a protective order can have unwanted consequences that could impact your job or your rights.
Contact a Murfreesboro Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have additional questions about an Order of Protection in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Murfreesboro criminal defense at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.