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Loudoun County Attorneys > Blog > Criminal Defense > FAQs About Protective Orders in Loudoun County

FAQs About Protective Orders in Loudoun County


When they make domestic violence arrests, most Northern Virginia law enforcement departments require officers to tell alleged victims about their right to seek a protective order. At this point, there’s little evidence of a crime, beyond the alleged victim’s statement. But that’s enough evidence to obtain a protective order, because the burden of proof is only a preponderance of the evidence.

Alleged abusers have rights in these matters, just like they have rights in criminal court. A Leesburg domestic violence lawyer stands up for those rights, in both civil and criminal court.

What is the Legal Definition of Domestic Violence in Virginia?

Family abuse, which is the term Virginia law uses, is any violent act that results in physical injury or places the alleged victim in reasonable fear of death, sexual assault, or bodily injury. Such acts include not only battery but also forceful detention, stalking, or any criminal offense that results in bodily injury or reasonable fear of death, sexual assault, or bodily injury.

What Types of Protective Orders Are Available? How Long Do They Last?

A family abuse protective order is a civil court order that is designed to stop violent behavior and put distance between the defendant and alleged victim. There are three types of protective orders for family abuse:

  • Emergency Protective Order: A judge may sign an ex parte (without a hearing) EPO, if s/he believes the alleged victim is in immediate danger. The order, which is usually good for three days, takes effect after the defendant is served. Law enforcement officers may request an EPO on the alleged victim’s behalf.
  • Preliminary Protective Orders: PPOs are very similar to emergency protective orders, but law enforcement officials cannot request a PPO. The judge may issue an order, which is usually good for fifteen days, based on the alleged victim’s affidavit.
  • Protective Orders: A (final) protective order can last up to two years. It can only be granted after a full court hearing where both alleged victim and alleged abuser have an opportunity to partner with a Leesburg criminal defense lawyer and attend a full hearing.

Most protective order matters begin in criminal court. Criminal judges, unlike civil judges, are available 24/7/365. Then, the signing judge transfers the case to civil court. If the parties are involved in a family law dispute, like a divorce case, that judge takes over.

What Protections Can an Emergency Protective Order Include?

An emergency protective order usually prohibits certain acts, such as further family violence and unreasonable contact, usually coming within 100 feet of each other or making harassing phone calls.

These orders may also give the alleged victim exclusive possession of a pet or companion animal and exclusive possession of a shared residence, even if the defendant pays the rent or mortgage.

What Protections Can a Preliminary Protective Order Include?

In addition to the above, a  preliminary protective order can order the defendant to provide suitable alternative housing for the alleged victim and any other family or household member and award the alleged victim exclusive use of a motor vehicle, cell phone or other personal property.

What Protections Can a Final Protective Order Include?

FPOs may also order the defendant to stop using a cell phone or other electronic device to locate or monitor the alleged victim, order the defendant to participate in treatment, counseling or other programs, and include temporary child custody and child support provisions.

Connect With a Savvy Loudoun County Lawyer

There’s a big difference between an arrest and a conviction in criminal law. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Leesburg, contact Simms Showers, LLP, Attorneys at Law. We routinely handle matters throughout Northern Virginia.

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