What Is an Order of Protection?
An Order of Protection is issued by the court to help protect you from harassment or abuse. We’ve got answers to the most commonly asked questions when it comes to protection orders.
Arizona Order of Protection - Everything You Need to KnowIn Arizona, an Order of Protection is a document issued by a court and signed by a judge to help protect you from harassment or abuse. In an Order of Protection, a judge can set limits on your partner’s behavior. Among other things, a judge will order your partner to stop abusing you and your children.
We’ve compiled some of the most commonly asked questions below in order to help make sense of why an Order of Protection may be needed, how to get one, and what you can do to be prepared in the event that you may need one. If your safety or the safety of your children is at risk, please call the police. If you’re in immediate danger, call 911.
Why Would an Order of Protection Be Needed?Family law cases, especially divorce and child custody cases, can be extremely emotional. Consequently, these cases often create a very turbulent time for everyone involved. Everyone’s reactions to the distress of divorce differ, but most people experience some feelings of anger, frustration, anxiety, sadness, grief, and even depression.
Knowing the stress that divorce brings, it is important for both parties to be very aware of any warning signs of possible domestic violence or other abuse. In the event of domestic violence, you should immediately contact your local police or county sheriff and report the incident. Next, you may need to consider an Order of Protection.
What’s the difference between an Order of Protection and a Restraining Order?If the opposing party is violent or threatens violence, towards you or your children, then a restraining order is necessary to keep him or her away. An Order of Protection from the court prevents the opposing party, or the defendant under the order, from contacting you and any other protected person at home or at work.
An Order of Protection is a form of a restraining order and is available when there is an act of domestic violence or threat of domestic violence against a family member. “Family” is broadly interpreted for an Order of Protection and includes not only a spouse, previous spouse, or blood relative, but also someone you live with or lived with, the father or mother of your unborn child, or even someone in a current or past romantic relationship with you. Typically, an Order of Protection is granted “Ex Parte,” meaning it can be granted without input from the defendant.
Do I need a Lawyer to File for an Order of Protection?You do not need a lawyer to file, but it is recommended that you have one. This will ensure that your legal rights are protected throughout the process, and your best interests are kept at the forefront.
How do I Petition the Court for an Order of Protection?If you or your child is a victim of domestic violence, your attorney can help you file a Petition for an Order of Protection. Getting the order does not take long, about an hour or so, at the court’s Order of Protection Office (here in Arizona, that is at the Family Violence Prevention Center). For an Order of Protection to issue, a family or intimate relationship is necessary between the victim and the defendant. The defendant’s date of birth and his or her address is also required.
The petition must state that domestic violence has occurred or may occur. When a domestic violence crime has occurred, then supporting evidence, dates, and testimony about the violent event is necessary for the court to issue the order. In making a decision, the judge may ask the petitioner for information on the following concerns:
•whether the defendant should be ordered to stay away from the victim’s workplace
•whether the defendant should be prohibited from possessing a firearm
•whether the defendant should be barred from the victim’s home
•whether there are others who should be included in the protective order as “protected parties”
The petitioner must swear that the information he or she provided in the petition is true and then sign the petition.
Once the judge has signed the Order of Protection, the defendant must be served with the petition and the order. Law enforcement will serve the defendant for free (as well as an injunction against harassment). For a fee, a private process server may also serve the protective order.
How Long Does an Order of Protection Last?The Order of Protection is effective for one year, the year begins when the defendant is served. The victim, as well as any other protected persons, should keep the order on his or her person at all times.
In the event that the defendant has not yet been served and shows up where the victim is, then the victim should call the police, and present the copy of the order to the officers when they arrive. The officer will then serve the order on the defendant.
Should the defendant violate the Order of Protection after being served, then he or she has committed a crime and will be arrested. It is very important to note that even with an Order of Protection in effect, the victim needs to take every safety precaution possible and prudent under the circumstances.
What is the Defendant Prohibited From Doing?An Order of Protection requires that the defendant stay away and remain out of contact with the victim. The order is valid for a year unless modified or quashed (dismissed) by the court.
The defendant can be arrested for violating the protective order, even if the victim initiated the contact. The court may also order that the defendant not possess, receive, or purchase firearms or ammunition, and order surrender of the same to law enforcement upon service of the protective order.
What if the Defendant is a Danger to Animals?Animals may also be included in the Petition for an Order of Protection. If you ask for an Order of Protection, and you believe the defendant is a danger to animals, you may also ask for the custody, care, and control of any animal owned by you, the defendant, or your minor child who is living in your household.
What Can I Do to Ensure My Order of Protection is Issued?We always recommend keeping a diary, journal, or log of events with dates and descriptions of any incidents involving potential or actual violence, threats of violence, stalking, cyberstalking, and harassment relevant to your case.
As difficult as it may be, we recommend journaling specific examples of the other party’s poor judgment, alcohol or drug abuse, violent behavior, or threats of violence. Take notes of the conversations you have with the other party regarding the issues in your case. Additionally, you should keep copies of all emails or written exchanges with the other party.
Do I Need to Bring Anything With Me to the Hearing?It is always a good idea to be prepared with any proof of abuse, including documentation, journals, or photographs of injuries. Printed copies of anything from an electronic device such as emails, voice messages, or text messages can be included in documentation presented to the court.
If possible, it is also helpful to bring anyone who has witnessed abuse or taken photos of your injuries.
Can I Cancel My Order of Protection?The only way to have an Order of Protection canceled or withdrawn is through the court. If the court grants the motion, the Order of Protection will immediately be void. If the court determines there is, in fact, a continued need for the order, it will remain in place.
What do I do if the Order is Not Obeyed?Call the police immediately if the Order of Protection is violated. The defendant will be arrested for the violation.
Remember, if your safety or the safety of your children is at risk, call the police immediately.
If you are in danger, dial 911.