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Orders of Protection: Everything You Need to Know

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Life can be messy. Domestic partnerships, informal roommate situations, and other uncomfortable arrangements can leave us feeling exposed without a remedy under the law. To make matters more complicated, we’re not always on our best behavior when emotions run hot. Children, codependency, and romantic entanglements can cause us to take leave of our senses and act in a way that’s contrary to our best interest. 

On either side of life’s messier moments, you may desire legal protections or find yourself barred from contact because of a court-issued protection order. For both petitioners and the accused, protection orders (or orders of protection) can be difficult to navigate, let alone understand. Thankfully, the attorneys at Andrew C. Beasley Attorneys at Law are prepared to help you through the process of an Order of Protection from either side of the order.

What is an Order of Protection?

An Order of Protection is a document issued by a court and signed by a judge to help protect you from harassment or abuse. Whether you have suffered from an abusive relationship or experienced a stalker, Orders of Protection provide victims with peace of mind and safety. These orders force the accused to cease all contact with the victim. A standard Order of Protection can last for up to one year and be renewed upon the expiration date.

Once the order has been issued, only a judge can change it. Regardless of if you and the accused reconcile your differences, they can still be considered in violation if they contact you or come to your home. In order to make changes, you must request another court date and present your reasoning to the judge, who will then determine whether or not lifting the order of protection is in your best interest.

Reasons for Filing for an Order of Protection

So long as you are 17 years of age or older, you have the ability to take your safety and wellbeing into your own hands and file for a protection order. Suffering from abuse, stalking, harrassment, sexual assault, or any other situation where you feel the safety of yourself and those around you is compromised, are all grounds for filing for an Order of Protection.

What Does a Protection Order Do?

In short, a protection order forbids the accused from having contact of any kind with the victim. Depending on the case at hand, the judge can order additional stipulations such as contact or interaction with not only you but your pet, family members, or specific friends. Much like any legal action, determinations are issued on a case by case basis.

Any order of protection forbids the following from occurring:

  • Phone calls
  • Text messages
  • Emails
  • Social media contact
  • Third party communication
  • Entering your home or workplace
  • Vandalism of personal property
  • Harassment of any kind

Types of Protection Orders

If you’ve been the victim of abuse, sexual assault, harrassment, or any other form of “danger”, you can file for a protection order as an effective means of quickly obtaining civil legal protection. In the state of Tennessee there are three types of protection orders: Temporary Protection Orders, Extended Protection Orders, and Restraining Orders. Let’s take a closer look.

Temporary Protection Orders

Temporary Protection Orders (TPO) are the first step a victim should take. A TPO is typically ordered when the judge believes there is immediate or present danger or abuse. An order such as this can go into effect without the abuser being given notice and without their appearance in court, but only last 15 days. TPO’s have the power to require the abuser to stop the specified threats, leave the shared residence immediately (until a hearing can be held), stop all communication, and stay away from the victim.

Extended Protection Orders

An Extended Protection Order (EPO) can only be obtained after a court hearing where both parties appear and argue their side. These last up to one year and can be extended upon their expiration date, only after another hearing is held. EPO’s grant the same requirements as a TPO, with the following additions: require the defendant to attend counseling, establish temporary custody, award financial support to the victim, determine housing accomodations.

Restraining Orders

A restraining order is similar to the above protection orders, as it orders the abuser to cease all contact with the victim. But, restraining orders are issued to protect a person who is considered to be in imminent danger, regardless of if they are related to or romantically involved. Restraining orders are generally valid for 10 years, as opposed to one year for an order of protection and do not offer a temporary emergency order. This means that you must wait until after the court hearing to have any protection put in place. Additionally, restraining order violations are considered to be criminal contempt and cannot be charged as misdemeanors.

Violation of a Protective Order in Tennessee

Violating a protective order in the state of Tennessee is considered a Class A Misdemeanor. Meaning, if the alleged victim is granted a restraining order and you violate it—on purpose or accidentally—they have the right to take the matter to court. If the accused violates an Order of Protection, they will immediately be arrested by law enforcement without a warrant, and could face a maximum sentence of 11 months and 29 days’ jail time along with a $2,500 fine.

Examples of these offenses can include:

  • Committing an act of domestic violence against the petitioner
  • Going within a certain distance of the petitioners vehicle
  • Going to the petitioner’s work, school, or place of residence
  • Destroying the petitioner’s personal property
  • Refusing to vacate the shared home
  • Contacting the petitioner in any way

Protect Yourself with the Help of the Attorneys at Andrew Beasley

Keeping your safety and wellbeing protected should be a number one priority, and at Andrew Beasley it is. If you have received an Order of Protection notice or are considering filing for one, our attorneys are prepared to assist you through this process. We’ll discuss with you in detail how to file, recollections of the events, what to expect in the courtroom, and how to proceed once everything has been ruled by the judge.

At Andrew Beasley, we take each of our clients’ needs very seriously. With our experience and insight, our team of criminal lawyers and attorneys will take great care to find the right defenses for your case. To give yourself a strong fighting chance in court, contact us today by calling (615) 274-4009 or schedule a free case review to learn more about how we can help protect you and your family.