An Order of Protection can do the following: 1. Keep an alleged abuser away from the victims home, place of employment, or other places. 2. Decide who will have temporary custody of children and order the alleged abuser to pay child support, 3. Order the alleged abuser to move out of the home, and 4. Order the abuser to comply with any other set of orders the Judge deems appropriate.
There is no charge to file a petition for an Order of Protection. They are available to anyone in any kind of domestic relationship such as a boyfriend or girlfriend, roommate, spouse, or even child. In the petition, the victim will make a written statement detailing the abuse. This must include a description of any physical abuse and/or threats of physical violence. The petition may also include other evidence of the abuse, such as pictures, text messages, affidavits from witnesses, etc. This petition will be taken before a Judge who will decide whether to issue a Temporary Order of Protection.
The Temporary Order will be valid for no more than 30-days. Within that time the alleged abuser will be served a copy of the Order and will also be notified of when a hearing to extend the Temporary Order will be held. An alleged abuser may not be arrested for contacting you until after they have been served with the Order and, if convicted, face one year in jail and/or be fined up to $1000 dollars.
A hearing before the Judge will be held within the 30-day period. At this hearing both parties should be prepared to testify and present evidence as to why the Judge should extent or dismiss the Order of Protection. Alleged victims do not need a lawyer to assist with filing a petition for an Order of Protection. However, I highly recommend that alleged abusers faced with defending an Order of Protection have an attorney, particularly if the allegations are unfounded and you are facing a divorce or custody action.
Orders of Protection are often a great tool to protect a victim prior to filing an action for Divorce, or, if you are not married, an action for Paternity/Custody and Child Support. A Restraining Order does not give law enforcement authority to arrest the violating party. A No-Contact Order is one that is usually issued by a Criminal Court against an abuser as a condition of their release from detention. Violating a condition of release could be grounds to revoke their release.
Many counties in Arkansas have a Victim’s Assistance program staffed with individuals who will assist a victim.
If you are in danger, call 911. Call the Arkansas Crisis Line at 479-442-9811 or toll-free 877-442-9811. The U.S. Hotline 800-799-SAFE (7233). All listed numbers offer help in Spanish.
Sonia Fonticiella Rios The Fonticiella Rios Law Firm, PLLC