What is a Protective Order & What Can It Do?
Also known as an order of protection or a restraining order, a protective order is court-issued. It is a very powerful tool for situations where you face violence or the threat of violence. A protective order:
- Forbids a person from having any form of contact with you
- Can limit how close they can get to you (spatial proximity)
- Can have a person removed from your home or work place
A protective order or restraining order can’t apply to random people. It only applies when you have a relationship with another person: current or former spouse, roommate or personal partner, relative or someone with whom you have a child.
You may have heard of another form of protection, which is called an Injunction Against Harassment. That’s an order that comes into play when the persons you need protection from are unrelated, like neighbors, co-workers or acquaintances.
What does it take to get a protective order?
Getting started is as straightforward as visiting your county’s Clerk of the Court. For instance, in Pima County, you go to the window adjacent to the Clerk’s office – it deals exclusively with protective orders. The form they give you, called a petition, needs to be signed. Be prepared to go before a judge, be sworn in and give testimony about why you need a protective order.
Tips for Testimony
- Identify specific events on the petition. Ask for additional pages if needed.
- If there’s actual evidence related to the events, be prepared to provide it to help defend the order if it’s challenged.
- Be thorough in your petition and testimony. If the order is challenged, you’re limited to the events listed in the petition for the order.
The sheriff’s office serves notice to the person and gives you a notice that they’ve been served. You’ll also have a copy of the Protective Order to give to your local police department. If you happen to run into the person before they’ve been served, call the police to have the person served.
Using or applying the protective order
If the person or persons you have the protective order against tries to contact you or violates any of the provisions in the order, notify law enforcement. They can’t enforce the order if you don’t – and don’t delay your report!