Procedures Applicable to a Plaintiff in a Protection Case - Temporary Protection Orders

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G. Temporary Protection Orders.

If you are in immediate danger of abuse, sexual assault, stalking or harassment, you may request a temporary protection order by checking the appropriate box on the complaint form. Sign the complaint in the presence of the clerk, a notary or an attorney.

The clerk will give the complaint and the request for a temporary protection order to a judge as soon as a judge is available. You should wait at the courthouse until the judge is available. If a judge will not be available at that location, the clerk will make alternative arrangements. These may include going to another court or use of telephones and fax machines to provide a review of the complaint. You should follow the clerk's instructions in these cases.

If the judge believes the allegations qualify for a temporary protection order, the judge will sign the order. In the case of a complaint based on abuse, sexual assault or stalking, if the judge does not think a temporary order may be issued or has questions about the allegations in the complaint, the judge may interview you. If the judge signs a temporary order of protection, the temporary order remains in effect until any of the following happens: (a) a final order of protection is issued after a hearing and is served on the defendant; (b) an order modifying the temporary order is entered; or (c) an order vacating (terminating) the temporary order is entered. You must appear at the court on the hearing date.

In a case based on abuse, sexual assault or stalking, the temporary order can direct the defendant not to possess any firearms or dangerous weapons, if either of the following is true: (a) the abuse, sexual assault, or stalking described in the complaint involved a firearm or dangerous weapon, or (b) the complaint shows a heightened risk of immediate abuse to you or a child. If the temporary order prohibits possession of dangerous weapons other than firearms, the order will specify what weapons are prohibited. A defendant prohibited from possession of firearms or other dangerous weapons must turn over any prohibited items to a law enforcement officer or other person within the time stated in the temporary order (24 hours or less after the temporary order is served on the defendant).

The relief available in a temporary order of protection is more limited than the relief available in a protection order issued after service on the defendant and notice of hearing.

In abuse, sexual assault or stalking cases, and harassment cases, the temporary order can:

  • Prohibit the defendant from having direct and indirect contact with you;
  • Prohibit the defendant from restricting your liberty (or the liberty of your employees in a harassment case);
  • Prohibit the defendant from threatening, assaulting, attacking, molesting, harassing or otherwise disturbing your peace;
  • Prohibit the defendant from entering your residence;
  • Prohibit the defendant from following you or going to your home, workplace or school without reasonable cause; and
  • Prohibit the defendant from taking, damaging or destroying your property.

In addition, in an abuse, sexual assault, or stalking case (but not a harassment case), the temporary protection order may:

  • Award temporary exclusive parental rights and custody of children;
  • Prohibit the defendant from injuring or threatening to injure any animal owned, possessed, leased, kept or held by either party or a minor child residing in the household; and
  • Require the defendant to turn over firearms to a law enforcement officer or third party.

Note: Unless a temporary order for protection explicitly prohibits contact between the defendant and you, contact that is neither abusive nor harassing is allowed. A temporary order is effective when it is signed but the order must be served on the defendant before he or she can be charged with a crime for violating the order, UNLESS the defendant has prior actual notice of a protection order. Usually, the complaint and all related papers are also served at the same time as the temporary order. See Section H for information about service of temporary orders.

The defendant has a right to ask the court to dissolve a temporary order. You must be given at least 48 hours notice, unless a shorter time is set by the judge. If the defendant files a motion to dissolve, a hearing on the motion is held. At the hearing, you must prove (with evidence: testimony or documents) any facts alleged in the complaint that the defendant has disputed by affidavit (sworn statement). The judge may decide to consolidate (combine) the hearing on the defendant's motion to dissolve with the final hearing on your complaint. Either way, a hearing on a motion to dissolve follows the procedures set forth in section J below (The Final Hearing).

If the judge decides not to issue a temporary order, you may decide not to proceed with the case. Unless the case is dismissed at your request, it will be scheduled for final hearing. An abuse case must be scheduled for hearing within 21 days of when the complaint is filed with the court. A harassment case will be scheduling for hearing when the court's schedule permits.

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