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What will Virginians face if a protective order is filed on them?

Protective orders are an integral part of the fight against domestic violence. If a Virginian has a protective order filed against them, it is important to know what that means for their life and future.

Protective orders can be requested by anyone who has a reason to fear domestic violence, including bodily injury, sexual assault or death at the hands of a family or household member. In Virginia, spouses, ex-spouses, parents, children, siblings, grandparents, in-laws and co-habitants are all considered family or household members. If a Virginian is not living with their significant other, if they have lived together in the past year or have a child in common, a protective order may be filed against them.

Protective orders involve civil law, not criminal law. Therefore, Virginias will not receive any jail time if a protective order is issued. The order goes into effect as soon as the person receive a copy of it. However, if that person is convicted of violating the protective order, they may face jail time. Once a conviction of violating the order is in place, a new protective order is automatically issued and will expire up to two years from the date of the conviction of this offense.

There are different types of protective orders. An Emergency Protective Order (EPO) can prevent Virginians from contacting the person who filed it or entering their home. The EPO will last until 11:59 p.m. on the third day after it was issued, unless the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court is not in session on that day. In that situation, the order will be extended until 11:59 p.m. on the next day it is in session.

A full Protective Order can be implemented for up to two years, even if that person has not been arrested or charged with a crime. A two-year protective order can also be extended, depending on the circumstances. It is important that violating a protective order can result in serious consequences.

Source: Virginia.gov, "An Informational Guide for Domestic Violence Victims in Virginia," accessed on Feb. 23, 2016

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