An order of protection is a special type of court injunction requiring a person to take certain actions, or to cease certain conduct towards another person. Also called a "restraining order", orders of protection are commonly issued in connection with family law cases involving domestic abuse and other similar issues.

For instance, an order of protection may prohibit a violent offender from contacting, communicating, or coming within a certain distance of the victim. The main aim of most protection orders is to prevent the offender from harming the victim again.

What Do Orders of Protection Cover?

Order of protection may cover a wide range of different needs and legal issues. They are issued on a case-by-case basis and are specifically shaped according to the needs of the victim. Protection orders may cover:

  • Whether the offender is permitted to see or visit with the victim
  • Whether the offender is required to keep a certain distance from the victim (such as 100 feet away at all times)
  • Guidelines regarding communication between the parties (if any is allowed)
  • How long the order lasts
  • Penalties for violating a restraining order
  • Various other provisions as needed

How Long Do Orders of Protection Last?

This depends- some orders of protection are permanent and require the offender to stay away from the victim indefinitely and at all times. This type of order can usually only be lifted through the judge’s orders. Other orders last only for a set period of time (for instance, a certain number of weeks or months). These are known as temporary restraining orders or TRO’s.

A common practice for judges is to issue a TRO at the beginning of an abuse or domestic violence trial. That way, the victim has some degree of protection throughout the duration of the trial. At the end of trial, after the evidence has been assessed, the judge may either lift the temporary order (for instance, if the defendant was found innocent), or they may issue a more permanent order.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With an Order of Protection?

Orders of protection can often be complex and somewhat difficult to understand. You may wish to hire a criminal lawyer if you need help obtaining or enforcing a protection order. Your lawyer can review the possible options for you and can also suggest the proper course of action. If you need to file a lawsuit or attend a court hearing, a lawyer can represent you during the process.