When people fear domestic violence or stalking, they can turn to the courts. The Missouri courts have the authority to issue an order of protection. Such orders limit the interactions that the person seeking the order can have with a person they claim has abused or stalked them.
Both those hoping to obtain an order of protection and those concerned about being subject to one need to learn more about the law. The person seeking the order of protection is the petitioner, while the person accused of misconduct is the respondent. Usually, petitioners have lived with or have a romantic relationship with the respondent. People can also seek an order of protection against a member of their family or a roommate.
What are the two types of orders?
When someone feels immediate fear for their safety, they can obtain a temporary order of protection. The courts call these ex parte orders of protection. So long as the judge agrees that there is an immediate risk of domestic violence or stalking, they can issue an order of protection the same day that someone files.
An ex parte order only has legal authority for 15 days. The petitioner can ask for a full order of protection during those 15 days for longer-lasting protection. A full order of protection usually retains its authority for somewhere between 180 days and a year. Cases involving minor children can lead to longer-lasting orders. The petitioner can potentially renew the order when it expires.
Can a respondent defend themselves?
The respondent typically has no authority in an ex parte order scenario. The process occurs so quickly that they likely do not receive notification until after the courts grant the order. However, respondents can defend themselves in a hearing for a full order of protection. They can provide their own evidence to the courts in an attempt to convince a judge that an order of protection is not necessary.
What does an order of protection do?
An order of protection includes specific restrictions on the respondent’s behavior. Typically, they are not able to directly communicate with the petitioner. They cannot call them, send them letters or attempt to communicate with them online.
Orders of protection also typically prevent the respondent from showing up at someone’s home or place of work. They would need to leave any location where they encounter the petitioner. If someone intentionally violates an order of protection, the petitioner can call the police for enforcement. The police can arrest a respondent who violates an order of protection. That violation could potentially lead to an assortment of penalties.
Understanding the basics of Missouri orders of protection may help those seeking protection from abuse or stalking and those fighting unfounded accusations of misconduct.