Protective Orders: What You Should Know

A Michigan woman was denied a protection order against her husband two weeks before she and her family were found dead in an apparent murder-suicide, court documents show. Her death is shining light on the need for protective orders.

What Is a Personal Protection Order?

A Personal Protection Order (PPO) is a court order to stop threats or violence against you. A PPO can help protect you from someone who is threatening, hurting, harassing, or stalking you. You can get a PPO if you have a reasonable fear for your personal liberty or safety.

There are three types of PPOs:

This article has information about all three types. If you need a PPO, you should first decide which type best fits your situation.

Which Type of PPO Is Right for You?

Domestic Relationship PPO

To get a domestic relationship PPO, you must show the judge that the abuser is likely to assault, threaten, harass, or stalk you. You must also show that you and the abuser have a domestic relationship.

You have a domestic relationship with the abuser if they are:

  • Your current or ex-spouse
  • Your child’s other parent
  • Someone you live with now or used to live with
  • Someone you have dated romantically
  • A domestic relationship PPO can prohibit the abuser from:
  • Entering your home or another place
  • Assaulting, attacking, beating, molesting, or wounding you or another person
  • Threatening to kill or physically injure you or another person
  • Removing your children from you if you have legal custody of them
  • Buying or having a gun
  • Interfering with you removing your children or personal property from a place the abuser owns or leases
  • Interfering with you at your job or school, or acting in a way that harms your job or school relationships or environment
  • Having access to your home/work address or telephone number in records that concern a child of both of yours
  • Stalking you
  • Intentionally causing you mental distress or controlling you by harming or threatening to harm an animal you own, taking the animal from you, or keeping it from you

Any other specific act or behavior that interferes with your personal freedom or makes you reasonably afraid of violence also qualifies. You may ask for specific protections in your petition, but the judge will decide what your PPO will prohibit.

Nondomestic (Stalking) PPO

The purpose of a nondomestic PPO is to protect you from stalking or harassing behavior if you and the abuser don't have a domestic relationship. To get a stalking PPO, you must show that there have been at least two incidents of harassment. Harassment is contact you don’t want. It has no valid purpose and causes you emotional harm or fear. It is also something that would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional harm or fear. This could include following you, making unwanted phone calls or texts, or showing up repeatedly at your home or work.

Cyberstalking is electronic stalking. It could mean the abuser posted messages about you or sent messages to you through the internet, a computer, or another electronic means without your consent.

A nondomestic PPO can prohibit the abuser from:

  • Following you or appearing within your sight
  • Approaching or confronting you
  • Appearing at your work or home
  • Going onto or staying on property you own, rent, or occupy
  • Calling you
  • Sending you mail or other messages
  • Placing an object on or delivering an object to property you own, rent, or occupy
  • Threatening to kill or hurt you
  • Buying or having a gun
  • Cyberstalking you
  • Other specific stalking behavior that you want the judge to prohibit

You may ask for specific protections in your petition, but the judge will decide what your PPO will prohibit.

Nondomestic Sexual Assault PPO

The purpose of a nondomestic sexual assault PPO is to protect you from a person who has sexually assaulted you or threatened to sexually assault you when you do not have a domestic relationship with that person. If you are under 18, sexual assault includes giving you obscene material.

A nondomestic sexual assault PPO can prohibit the abuser from:

  • Threatening to sexually assault, kill, or hurt you or another person
  • Following you or appearing within your sight
  • Appearing at your work or home
  • Approaching or confronting you
  • Entering your home or another place
  • Going onto or staying on property you own, rent, or occupy
  • Calling you
  • Sending you mail or other messages
  • Cyberstalking you
  • Buying or having a gun
  • Interfering with you removing your children or personal property from a place the abuser owns or leases
  • Interfering with you at your job or school, or acting in a way that harms your job or school relationships or environment
  • Placing objects on or delivering them to property that you own, lease, or occupy
  • Any other specific act or behavior that interferes with your personal freedom or makes you reasonably afraid of violence

You may ask for specific protections in your petition, but the judge will decide what your PPO will prohibit.

How Do I Get a PPO?

The petition is used to give the judge important information they need to decide whether to give you the order you want. As best you can, explain what the abuser has done to you and how you have been harmed. Try to remember the dates or times of year the events happened. You don't have to have police reports or other documents to get a PPO, but if you do have them you should attach them to your petition. They can help the judge understand what has happened to you.

You might be afraid the abuser will harm you if you don't get a PPO right away. You might be afraid the abuser will harm you if they find out you are asking for a PPO. If so, you can ask for an emergency order called an ex parte order. If you get an ex parte order, you won't have to wait for a hearing to get your order. With an ex parte order, the abuser won't know you're asking for a PPO until after you get your order.

If you do not request an ex parte order in your petition, the court will schedule a hearing to decide whether to give you a PPO. Or, if the judge denies your petition for an ex parte order, there will be a hearing if you request one within 21 days. In either of these situations, you must have a copy of the petition and a notice of hearing delivered to the abuser. The abuser will have the opportunity to attend the hearing and respond to the information in your petition. In this situation, the abuser will know you are asking for a PPO before you are protected by an order.

At a court hearing, you and the abuser will each have the chance to speak and may be able to ask each other questions. You may also be able to call witnesses and show the judge other evidence.

Contact White Law PLLC for more information. 

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