Georgia courts offer family violence protection orders to people who claim to have been the victim of violence or the threat of violence. These kinds of orders can be used to greatly restrict your behavior, and disrupt your life. Knowing the risks associated with having a protection order issued against you is important, and with qualified legal counsel, may be preventable. Keep reading to learn more.
Two types of orders are available – a temporary ex parte order and a standard family violence protective order. An ex parte order is granted without giving you the chance to show up to court and present your side of the story. In fact, you may not even know that an order has been filed for until after the court issues it and notifies you. Ex parte orders are valid only until a hearing can be held, and in any case do not last longer than 30 days. At the hearing you will be given an opportunity to be heard and to oppose the order. If the court rules against you, however, it will issue a standard family violence protective order that can be valid for up to a year. It can later be extended for up to three years if necessary.
A family violence protective order (or an ex parte order) is designed to protect the complainant from conduct such as assault, battery, stalking, vandalism, trespassing, unlawful restraint and any conduct that amounts to a felony. It may be sought by a spouse, ex-spouse, child, parent, roommate, ex-roommate, live-in girlfriend or boyfriend, or the mother or father of your child, among other parties. If the complainant is not at least 18 years old, however, an adult must file on his/her behalf.
Either type of order can prevent you from legally contacting the person who filed the order or retaining custody of your children, from living in your own home, from using your car, from entering or remaining in the vicinity of the complainant or your child, and many other activities. You may be forced to pay temporary alimony or child support payments or attend psychological counseling. You may also have to pay the filer’s legal fees.
Simply ignoring a family violence protective order is not a good idea. Violating its terms, even the terms of an ex parte order, is treated as a serious matter in Georgia. You can be charged with contempt of court even if the complaint later proves to be unfounded, and if convicted you can be imprisoned for up to a year. Under certain circumstances you could be charged with a felony and spend even more time in prison. If your violation is characterized as stalking, you might even face a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
A family violence protection order can seriously disrupt your life and put you at the risk of criminal prosecution. If you are the subject of a family violence protection order issued by a Georgia court, or if you have been charged with violating one, call ABT Law Firm, LLC at 1-800-NOJAIL-9 or 1-800-665-2459 for a free consultation. We are available 24/7 and will even visit you in jail.