What does an "Order of Protection" Mean?

M.R. Anglin

When a person harms, stalks, or threatens to harm another, it can be harrowing to the victim. In many areas, there are laws that provide for protection from such individuals. An order of protection is a court order that serves to help protect victims of harmful or threatening behavior from further harm. This order generally makes it easier for police to arrest the perpetrator as well, should he violate the terms of the order.

A domestic abuse victim might seek an order or protection.
A domestic abuse victim might seek an order or protection.

An order of protection clearly defines what a defendant can or cannot do. For instance, he may be ordered to stay away from the victim’s home or workplace. It may also preclude the defendant from possessing firearms, even if he owned one before the order was issued. Should this order be violated, the victim can call the police and have the defendant arrested. Consequences of violating the order can include jail time.

Phone calls may be prohibited under an order of protection.
Phone calls may be prohibited under an order of protection.

If a person feels harmed, threatened, or harassed, he can go to court to have an order of protection issued against his alleged abuser. To do this, the victim first can schedule a hearing, and then both the victim and the alleged abuser will usually have both sides of their case heard. At this hearing, the victim can present all the evidence he has against the alleged abuser, such as harassing e-mails and answering machine recordings. Once the judge hears both sides of the story and sees the evidence, he can choose whether or not to issue the order.

A judge will likely issue a hearing date for an accused to produce evidence for the need of a court order of protection.
A judge will likely issue a hearing date for an accused to produce evidence for the need of a court order of protection.

Should the victim feel as if he would be in immediate danger, he can have an emergency order, called an ex parte, issued. An ex parte order is a temporary order of protection that is put in place before the official hearing. This order tells the alleged abuser to stay away from the victim until they both appear on the issued court date. With any type of protection order, the alleged abuser will have to be served with the order before it goes into effect. It is often the responsibility of the victim to have it served, and usually this is best handled by the appropriate police department or through a hired server.

There may be concern that an order of protection will not do enough to prevent future violence. Some critics say it is only a piece of paper which can be easily violated. Though the order may make it easier to arrest the defendant, it may do no good if he harms the victim while violating the order. Still, orders of protection are one way the law helps to protect victims from those who seek to harm them.

If a person violates a protection order they may be arrested.
If a person violates a protection order they may be arrested.

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Discussion Comments


What happens when the person who took out the protection order, comes back to the person they wanted protection from?


i recently was the victim in a case. he decided to lie after assaulting me to get a TRO that somehow turned into a protection order. i am too young for him. i was arrested for committing no crime but texting accidentally.

he took a marker to each page of the order then drove to my house to serve it himself to me. i have been traumatized for five months and yes it will forever affect me. i am a teenager. no, i was not married and he did not show up to a single hearing to explain this lie. there was also no proof to put me through this. He got off with causing this action to the actual victim -- me in this case.

I, the victim, was accused of things i for real did not do. this man is eleven years older than me but he was not my boyfriend. we had an intimate relationship and he lied to me so i then texted something about it not being necessary to hurt my feelings where the assault took place.

i did not accept the play because i did not do anything. i have had a horrible experience for something so simple, based on texting that was not even a threat. It was a massive text to friends. it's a teenager thing. i cried for five months straight. i cried for the entire time. i was arrested for overnight and two days was more than enough to break my heart for good and make me so scared for doing literally nothing. I could not even be able to hold a fork to eat, I was trembling so bad.

i felt like a target for five months. i was admitted and tested. i am completely by this point destroyed. i was tested negative and clean. the state has nothing on me. let me remind you that this whole five months i was the victim in this case.

turns out the guy that lied to get me to sleep with him was a real criminal and no one stopped this. i am scared for life and i keep thinking how hard life was before this happened to me. i do have add/adhd/dyslexia. Now i have no more in me to get up and take on life. Every ounce of strength i had went into comforting myself through this tragedy.

yes I'm pretty and very cool. i have more guy friends and girls are usually very jealous of me but it can happen to anyone. i was stupid enough to believe everything that he said to me.

i wanted to be an interior designer i dropped out of school because i just couldn't sit in class and think of what is happening to me. i have never felt so helpless in my life. i can't move on and there is nothing i can do about it because the damage was already done to me, the TRO costing nothing.

my parents had to pay about a thousand dollars for a lawyer for this I.C.E case/ i had no idea what this was. all i know is that my heart was broken without my permission. it felt like i was screaming for help and no one would help me. this has ruined me. i can't believe the law let this happen. unbelievable.


My daughter and I were attacked by two girls. They physically harmed us. It went to court. One girl was found not guilty and the other was found guilty. She got six months probation. She was ordered to stay away from us. Her friend lives in the same building i do and is here a lot. Is that allowed or is she getting too close to us?


i have a ex boyfriend who will not stop calling me, emailing me, texting me and bothering me.

i moved out of town and now he's threatening my little brother. i deleted his emails and phone calls and texts so i have no proof.

what are my options on restraining orders? Is there a specific one i have to do? and do i have to wait for him to continue to harass me and my little brother to get evidence on him? thanks for any help.

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