Our office is seeing more and more clients who are concerned about a civil protection order that has been filed against them. We believe that a greater number of people are utilizing the courts to end relationships, deal with problem neighbors, and with interpersonal issues that used to not come to the court's attention. There are also a small number of persons who use protection orders to "get even" with others.
This last category is especially concerning, since the courts will often issue an ex parte restraining order against a person based solely on allegations, with no substantive evidence or opportunity to respond. Once a person is served with the temporary protection order, they may have less than two weeks to respond to the allegations in court. The adequacy of their response will affect the likelihood that the court will issue a full protection order against them. This is the point that a person should immediately seek the assistance of a lawyer accustomed to appearing on the protection order docket.
Even a temporary order can affect a person, as now there is a public record showing that the person has had an allegation or sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, or harassment against them, depending on the protection order type. This finding, in which a person had no opportunity to respond, can haunt someone in their ability to secure employment or housing, among other things.
A final order is very difficult to overturn, and appeals are the only avenue for relief. Therefore those confronted with a civil protection order should immediately seek assistance from our office. We handle all types of protection orders, and regularly appear before the judges and commissioners that hear these matters.