In Virginia, there are two types of civil protective orders: Family Abuse Protective Orders and Act of Violence Protective Orders.  The Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts have jurisdiction over Family Abuse POs; the General District Courts have jurisdiction over Act of Violence POs.

Although similar in some ways to criminal assault and battery cases, these offer civil remedies.  As with most civil cases, the standard for obtaining a PO is a “preponderance” standard – meaning that the person attempting to obtain a PO must show that it is slightly more likely than not that abuse occurred.

Commonly referred to as a restraining order, protective orders may be obtained when there are acts of abuse against a family or household member.  Whether you are attempting to obtain a protective order against an abuser or someone is trying to have one entered against you, all protective order cases should be taken seriously.

Obtaining Protective Orders

Protective orders offer security and peace of mind to victims of abuse or violence.  To obtain either a Family Abuse or an Act of Violence PO, a petitioner must demonstrate the occurrence of an act of violence, force or threat that either causes bodily injury or places him/her in reasonable fear of bodily injury.  For the Family Abuse PO, these acts must be committed by a family or household member.

The entry of a PO opens up additional remedies, including (but not limited to) the following:
  • Prohibiting contact by the abuser;
  • Getting possession of a shared residence to the exclusion of the abuser; and
  • Temporary custody or child support.
Because of the serious nature of protective orders, abusers/respondents often hire attorneys to defend them.   Procuring a protective order often requires not only the testimony of the petitioner but physical evidence (such as photographs, text messages or voicemails) as well.  The assistance of a lawyer is crucial to ensure that none of your evidence is excluded.

Defending Protective Orders

Your right to see your children, live in your home, or carry a firearm may be affected if a protective order is entered against you.  What’s more, the violation of a PO is a criminal offense, punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine.  If you’re spouse or intimate partner is trying to obtain a protective order against you, contact us today to see how we can help you protect your rights.

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