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 complicate matters, 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 up to one year and be renewed upon expiration.
Once the order has been issued, only a judge can change it. Regardless if you and the accused reconcile your differences, they can still be considered in violation if they contact you or come to your home. 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 well-being into your own hands and file for a protection order. Suffering from abuse, stalking, harassment, 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 contacting the victim. Depending on the case, the judge can order additional stipulations such as contact or interaction with you and your pet, family members, or 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
- 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, harassment, or any other form of “danger,” you can file for a protection order to obtain civil legal protection quickly. 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 a victim's first step. 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 it only lasts 15 days. TPOs can 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. EPOs 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, and determine housing accommodations.
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 criminal contempt and cannot be charged as misdemeanors.
Violation of a Protective Order in Tennessee
Violating a protective order in Tennessee is considered a Class A Misdemeanor. 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. Suppose the accused violates an Order of Protection. In that case, they will immediately be arrested by law enforcement without a warrant and could face a maximum sentence of 11 months and 29 days of 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 petitioner's 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 well-being 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 in detail how to file, recollections of the events, what to expect in the courtroom, and how to proceed once the judge has ruled everything.
At Andrew Beasley, we take each client’s 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.