An Order of Protection, also known as a Protective Order, is an order you get from the court that tells someone to leave you alone. Of course, it is only a piece of paper, and it is not absolute protection against violence. However, it certainly can help. The police will have a copy of the Order of Protection, and will be able to respond quickly to assist you. You can call the police anytime you are hurt or in danger, but having an Order of Protection will help the police in responding to your call. You can get an Order of Protection if you are a victim of domestic or family violence, a sexual offense, or stalking.
Domestic or family violence is when a family or household member harms or threatens to harm you, places you in fear of physical harm, forces you to engage in sexual activity, or stalks you. A family or household member includes a spouse, someone you are or were dating or had an intimate relationship with, someone who is related to you, etc. You can also get an Order of Protection against someone who is not a family member or household member if that person has committed a sexual offense or a stalking offense against you. You cannot get an Order of Protection against a non-family or non-household member if you are having a general dispute with that person that does not involve stalking or sexual offense The Order of Protection will last for 2 years, unless the court orders a different date.
A victim of domestic violence can also obtain a No-Contact Order. This is different from an Order of Protection. A judge can enter a no-contact order in a criminal case, a C.H.I.N.S case, or juvenile case. A no-contact order is used to stop contact that might interfere with the court case. It is possible to have both a no-contact order and an Order of Protection issued against the same person.
Getting an Order of Protection is not absolute protection against abuse. Violation of an Order of Protection is a crime. However, some Respondents act violently even when they know they might get arrested. If you need an Order of Protection, it would be helpful for you to talk with someone at a local domestic violence shelter or similar agency about things you can do to reduce the risk of injury to yourself and/or your children.