Mandatory protection orders can affect many things in a person’s life, from their criminal case to the exchanging of kids and contacting their spouse. It’s important to know what protection orders are and what effects they can have on a person’s life, criminal case, and even civil case.
What is a Protection Order?
Mandatory Protection Orders (MPO’s)
Also known as a restraining order, mandatory protection orders are aimed to help the victim in a criminal law case. The purpose is to prevent the defendant from being able to “harass, molest, intimidate, retaliate against, or tamper with any witness to or victim of the crime charged.” MPOs will last until the conclusion of the case, whether that occurs when the case is dismissed or the offender completes their designated sentence. Violating this protection order is a crime, and it can happen in many ways including:
- reaching out to the victim in any sort of way (i.e. texting, calling, etc.),
- leaving messages intended for the victim where they will see it
- asking somebody else to contact the victim
- possessing guns/ammunition when prohibited from having those items
- possessing or consuming drugs or alcohol when prohibited from doing so
MPO’s can be modified to drop the no-drugs, no-contact, or no-guns provisions at any time. Be sure to talk about these things with an attorney regularly throughout the duration of the case.
Civil Protection Orders (TRO’s and PPO’s)
Similar to MPOs, there are civil restraining orders known as temporary restraining orders (TROs) and permanent protection orders (PPOs). TROs are, in essence, short-lasting, emergency restrictions on contact issued by a civil court judge. While the victim does not have to ask for a MPO in criminal cases, they do have ask the court for a TRO in civil courts and convince the court that they are in immediate need of one. PPOs are similar to TROs and MPOs, except they last for much longer, even permanently, and are meant to protect victims who are in immediate danger from an offender who is unlikely to stop harassing, intimidating, or contacting them in the absence of a restraining order. The victim must submit evidence to a civil court to make a TRO permanent.
It’s important to keep in mind that the defendant (also known as the respondent in civil court) can contest the permanent restraining order or go to court to argue why it should not be granted. This is called a contested hearing, and a judge will be left to decide whether to grant the PPO after hearing evidence from both sides. This means that you should be prepared with all your witnesses and evidence present during such a hearing, and be prepared to cross-examine the opposing party (with or without a lawyer) and be cross-examined yourself.
Mandatory Protection Orders and Children
If a protection order has resulted from domestic violence or a criminal act by one of the spouses, then the odds of that parent being awarded custody by a judge is low. When determining custody, the courts’ biggest concern is the well-being and best interests of the child. For that reason, abusive parents may still be granted visitation time, but it differs from custody in that the parent may have to be supervised when they are with the child or undergo drug/ alcohol testing prior to visitation.
This is not a one size fits all issue, however, because they are circumstances where a parent with a history of violence can still be granted some level of custody. Some examples of things that are considered are whether the parent has completed any domestic violence programs, what the relationship is like between each parent and the child, and what the living conditions are like at home. To learn more about domestic violence and its impacts on child custody, check out our last blog post, which you can find here.
In cases of child abuse, MPO’s routinely prohibit contact with children. Sex offense MPO’s also prohibit contact with children under the age of 18. It’s routine to see these conditions not only as MPO terms and conditions, but also as conditions of bond.
How is Contact Between Spouses Affected?
As described earlier, the purpose of protection orders is to cut off any form of contact between the offender and the victim to allow for an adequate cooling-off period. MPOs, TROs, and PPOs all have this goal in mind. In cases where there is an intimate relationship between the parties (spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, partner, but more than just roommates), then these no-contact provisions can often prevent one party from returning to the shared home.
With an MPO, the order lasts as long as the criminal case lasts, whether that’s until the case is dismissed or until the offender finishes their sentence. But the MPO can be modified to be more restrictive or less as time goes by. After the MPO has ended, the offender could get in contact with their spouse as long as there is not an overlapping civil TRO/PPO prohibiting it. Divorce cases regularly incorporate both TRO’s and PPO’s and judges deciding matters of property and custody allocation can also decide under what circumstances–if at all–the partners should be allowed to see each other.
Common types of modifications for limited contact between adults involved in DV or spousal disagreements include:
- contact in public places only
- exchanging custody of children through third parties or family members
- written electronic communication (text, email, or Talking Parents) only
- all electronic communication (phone included)
- contact for specific purposes only (caring for children)
Even though full contact might not be allowed right away, some limited forms of contact will alleviate the pressures of having to abide by an MPO, TRO, or PPO. What’s more these temporary limited contact orders may be changed at most times during the life of an MPO or TRO, but can be longer-term requirements for PPO’s. After all, PPO’s are permanent, and the parties to such a PPO have to wait a certain number of years before petitioning the court again for any modifications.
Ultimately, navigating the different types of protection orders can be difficult but crucial in keeping people and their loved ones safe. While there are many more types of orders than discussed in this post, MPOs, TROs, and PPOs are prevalent in both criminal and civil court. Protection orders can affect many things in a person’s life, from their criminal case to the exchanging of kids and contacting their spouse. It’s important to know what protection orders are and what effects they can have on a person’s life, criminal case, and even civil case.
Need Legal Help?
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