What is an Order of Protection?
An Order of Protection is a document from a court to help protect you from abuse or harassment. In an Order of Protection a judge says there are things that the person who hurt or threatened you must or must not do. A judge can:
- Order your husband or boyfriend to stop abusing you and your children
- Order your husband or boyfriend to stay away from your home, work, school or family
- Order your husband or boyfriend not to talk with you or see you (no mail, phone, email, messages through other people)
- Let your husband or boyfriend talk with or see you but not threaten or harass you or hurt your body
An Order of Protection is an order from a judge. It is not an agreement between you and your husband or boyfriend. The judge is the only person who can change or end an Order of Protection.
If your husband or boyfriend violates the Order Of Protection, or does something that the order says he is not supposed to do, you should call the police. If the Order of Protection says that your husband or boyfriend must stay away from you or your children and he comes to your house or calls, you should call the police and report this.
Remember that in an emergency you can always call 911.
Tell the police that you have an Order of Protection and that your husband or boyfriend has violated the order. When the police come show them a copy of your order. It is a crime for the person who hurt you to not follow an Order of Protection.
You should always have a copy of your Order of Protection with you.
You can make as many copies of your order as you need. Make sure that the people around you know that they should call the police if your husband or boyfriend does not follow the order.
How do I get an Order of Protection?
Criminal Court punishes people for breaking laws by making them pay money, sending them to jail or giving them probation. Any victim of domestic violence can call the police for help - it doesn't matter if you are married or dating. You can only get an Order of Protection from criminal court if the police arrest the person who hurt or threatened you.
If you are the person who is pressing charges (the person hurt) the district attorney's office will handle the case.
Family Court is a civil court that can help protect you and your family. Family Court judges can also decide custody, visitation and child support. You can only go to Family Court if you are legally married to, divorced from, related to, or if you have a child with the person who hurt or threatened you.
If you are eligible you can choose to go to Family Court, Criminal Court, or both at the same time.
Supreme Court is also a civil court. If you are married but are getting a divorce or legal separation you can ask for an Order Of Protection at any time before your case is finished.
How do I decide which court to go to?
If you are not sure an Advocate at the Advocacy Center or a lawyer can help you decide which court is best for your situation.