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Retain an attorney and just get an Order of Protection! That’s the advice many people receive from family, friends, and co-workers when they want someone out of their lives. The purpose of an Order of Protection is to protect someone who has a legitimate fear for their safety and a legal basis to support their request. The person who requests an Order of Protection is the "Plaintiff" and the person who has an Order of Protection issued against them is the "Defendant". We all know an Order of Protection is just a piece of paper, but there can be long-lasting and devastating effects as a result of an Order of Protection. This article is intended to inform you about the pros and cons of an Order of Protection and what you can do if you need one or if you are served with one.

The Pros:
Removes the Defendant from the home and sometimes limits how close (oftentimes measured in feet) he/she can come near the Plaintiff.
Can limit or eliminate any contact between the Plaintiff and the Defendant by phone, e-mail, in person, in writing or through a third party.
Allows the Defendant one time to return to the home for 15 minutes with a police officer standing by to get personal belongings only.
Gives the Plaintiff exclusive use of the home until further order of the Court.
Promotes peace and tranquility in the home, at work and other places the Plaintiff regularly goes.
Diffuses a hostile environment by physically separating the parties.

The Cons:
The Defendant can be served with an Order of Protection and is then required to leave (or not return to) their home unless and until a judge changes the order. He/she must then find another place to stay.
Some employers require that an Order of Protection be disclosed to them.
Gives the Plaintiff exclusive use of the house.
Gives the Plaintiff physical custody of the children.
Has been misused as a way to get someone out of the house immediately when the relationship is over or coming to an end.
Has been misused as a weapon in volatile relationships as a threat if one party doesn’t go along with what the other party wants.
Sets the stage for a claim of domestic violence which may have serious consequences in future decisions about child custody and parenting.
Even though it is a formal Order of the court, it’s just a piece of paper that cannot protect the Plaintiff if the Defendant is intent on harming them.


How to get an order of protection

The Plaintiff must first go to the court (usually in the city or county in which they live) and fill out a Petition (or request) in writing that states specifically what the domestic violence is or has been including dates. They must sign a verification that they are telling the truth. They will then go before a judge who will ask them questions about their situation. They must tell the court what they want. If the judge feels that there is adequate evidence to believe that domestic violence has occurred (within the last year) or is likely to occur, the judge will then issue the Order of Protection. The Plaintiff walks out of court that day with the Order in hand.

An Order of Protection is not enforceable until it’s served on the Defendant. Once served, the Defendant must abide by its terms unless and until the court changes or dismisses it. It is not uncommon for a Plaintiff to get an Order of Protection, hold on to it, wait for the next argument, call the police and then ask them to serve the Order on the Defendant.

Orders of Protection are not mutual; that means that if you are the Defendant, the Plaintiff can still contact you, but you cannot contact or talk to them. Oftentimes, the Plaintiff will try to start a conversation or meeting, the Defendant will want to make up or otherwise talk to the Plaintiff. The situation deteriorates into another argument and the police are called. The police must enforce the Order so that means you face going to jail for violation of the Order of Protection. "But she called me first" is the most common explanation I hear for why a Defendant would talk or meet with the Plaintiff. The police don’t care. As the Defendant, you are the one on the hook if you are baited into having contact with the Plaintiff while a Order of Protection is effective.


What Can I do if I am served with an order of protection?

If you are served with an Order of Protection - OBEY IT!! If you do not agree with it or if it includes your children, you have the right to a hearing where your side of the story can be told. These hearings are nothing to take lightly as they can determine whether or not you get to live in your own home, physical custody of your children, and where you can and cannot go. You must present evidence, call witnesses and have organized exhibits. You have the right to hire an attorney to defend you but the other side has that very same right. I have represented Clients on both sides of an Order of Protection who have no idea what is expected at the hearing or how important it can be to your future. When I represent a Client, witnesses are interviewed, exhibits are gathered, evidence is uncovered and the Client is thoroughly prepared to tell the judge his/her side of the story efficiently and effectively with my guidance. It’s very rewarding to make the difference in such a delicate part of someone’s life. STOP. THINK. GET INFORMED.


Arizona Domestic Violence Attorney

Domestic violence is rampant in our society despite all the information and education available today. Acts of domestic violence are a CRIME. What exactly is domestic violence according to Arizona law? Domestic violence is more complicated than one would imagine. A crime is deemed "domestic" if the victim and defendant are related in specific ways according to Arizona Revised Statute § 13-3601(A). The relationship can be by marriage or former marriage, people residing together, people who have a child in common or one party is pregnant by the other party. The definition doesn’t stop there however. The victim can also be a child who resides or has resided in the same household as the defendant and is related by blood to a former spouse of the defendant.1

During my time as a prosecutor in Arizona, I was surprised to see how easy it is for someone to be charged and arrested for domestic violence. Say you are having an argument with your spouse and there comes a knock at the door. It’s the police and they are there because a neighbor called. They just want to talk to you to see what’s going on so you innocently let them in. Police are trained to separate up the two people involved and to interview them individually. The state has now become a part of your life - a huge part. If the police determine that one party was "at peace" (minding their own business) and the other party was the aggressor, they can and will arrest that person and charge him/her with disorderly conduct - D.V.2 There are also many criminal charges that can be brought with the D.V. designation - in other words it’s not necessarily just one crime. What does that mean?

It means you go to jail, are charged with a crime that has a "D.V." designation which triggers the requirement of taking a series of classes for which you must pay (at the very least). If you wish to be represented, you will pay attorney’s fees. The state can put you on probation. The state can require you to pay a fine. The state can request jail. All of this because you got into an argument.

Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate. While people typically assume that the male is the aggressor, it is amazing how many men are actually victims of domestic violence including disorderly conduct, stalking and assault. Men typically don’t call the police and it is astounding how many men are suffering in silence with their wives and girlfriends regularly victimizing them. They too are caught up in the cycle of domestic violence with the argument then the promise never to do it again then the make up then the eventual deterioration to the next round of violence and it starts all over again. Victims always think it will get better, but experience has shown that it more often gets worse.

Criminal charges involving domestic violence should not be taken lightly. If you don’t know the system, then you don’t know the options available to perhaps lessen the charge(s) or get them dismissed. You risk having a criminal record that can affect your job, your credit, appear on background checks and follow you for years. If you or someone you love is facing criminal domestic violence charges, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to get sound legal advice before you do anything or talk to anyone - especially the state. Remember the old saying - he who represents himself has a fool for a Client.

Footnote 1: See a licensed Arizona attorney for additional information on what constitutes
a relationship triggering domestic violence.

Footnote 2: They also charge additional crimes such as assault if there is evidence to support it.








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