Domestic Protective Orders in Metairie
Victims of domestic abuse often feel helpless and may be reluctant to seek help for fear of reprisals from the abuser. By obtaining a protective order, a victim of domestic abuse can begin the process of healing. A protective order is an order by a court that requires an abuser to stay away from a family member or domestic partner. There are three types of protective orders in Louisiana:
- Emergency temporary restraining orders. An emergency restraining order can be issued to protect someone who is in danger during the hours when the courts are not open. An emergency restraining order may be issued by a magistrate and is available 24 hours a day. The order is good until the end of the next business day. To continue the order, you must go back to the court during working hours and file a petition for a temporary restraining order.
- Temporary restraining orders: Emergency restraining orders and temporary restraining orders may be issued ex parte, meaning that the person to whom the order applies does not have to be present. The petitioner will present testimony to a magistrate or judge, who will issue the order if the circumstances, based on the petitioner’s statement, warrants it. Once a Temporary Restraining Order is issued, the sheriff will serve the abuser with the order, and a court date will be set. Both parties must appear on the date set by the court, and both will have an opportunity to testify. At the hearing, the court may discontinue the order, or issue a Protective Order.
- Protective Orders last for up to 18 months and may be extended. The order may specify that the abuser refrains from certain behaviors for an indefinite amount of time. Those behaviors are: Going to the petitioner’s place of employment or home, harassing the petitioner at their place of employment or home, and interfering with the petitioner at their place of employment. The order may include minor children of the petitioner.
What Happens of a Protective Order is Violated?
Violation of a protective order can have civil and criminal consequences. The violator may be fined or imprisoned and may be found guilty of civil contempt. A violator found guilty of contempt for violating a protective order may be forced to pay the legal expenses of the petitioner, and may lose custody or visitation rights.
Who May Be The Subject of a Protective Order?
- Family members: including spouses, parents, children, foster children, step-parents, step-children, and grandparents.
- Members of your household: including domestic partners of either sex.
- Dating partners: if the judge determines that the parties have an intimate or romantic relationship.
- Non-family members: who have committed acts of stalking or cyberstalking. The person need not have been convicted of stalking, but the petitioner must present evidence that acts of stalking or cyberstalking, as defined in the Louisiana Criminal Code, have occurred.
What May be Included in a Protective Order
Louisiana Revised Statutes 46:2135 governs temporary restraining orders, and states what may be included. The judge may:
- Order the defendant to refrain from harassing, contacting, or interfering with the petitioner, and to stay away from the petitioner’s home and place of work.
- Award the petitioner temporary possession of the parties’ residence, and of other jointly owned property.
- Award the petitioner temporary custody of the parties’ minor children.
- Prohibit either party from transferring or encumbering the jointly owned property.
A defendant who has been ordered to leave the parties’ residence may return to collect clothing and other personal items, accompanied by a law enforcement officer.
Enforcement of Metairie Protective Orders in Other Jurisdictions
Federal law requires any validly issued protective order to be enforced anywhere in the United States.
Enforcing Out of State Protective Orders in Louisiana
A valid protective order issued in any state may be enforced in Louisiana.
Registering Protective Orders
The state of Louisiana maintains a Protective Order Registry for all orders issued anywhere in the state. Registry of protective orders is not required but will make it easier for law enforcement officers in all jurisdictions to verify that an order exists if the petitioner calls for help.
The National Crime Information Center maintains a registry of all protective orders issued in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. This makes it easier for law enforcement officials to verify and enforce protective orders from any jurisdiction.
The defendant will not be notified when a protective order has been registered, and any personal information about the petitioner, including the petitioner’s address, is kept confidential.
How Can A Metairie Family Law Attorney help?
There is no fee for filing a petition for a protective order, and the petitioner is not required to have an attorney, but it is advisable to seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney in some circumstances. After a temporary restraining order has been issued, the court will set a date for a hearing to determine whether, and for how long, the order will continue.
The defendant will be notified of the hearing date and will be given an opportunity to present evidence. Since the hearing is an adversarial proceeding, having an attorney by your side is a good idea. If the defendant is represented by an attorney, it is highly advisable for the petitioner to be represented also. Being questioned by the person whom you have accused of domestic violence or stalking can be intimidating, and abusers often deliberately intimidate victims in order to make them nervous or to make them agree to terminate a restraining order.
Your attorney will also assist with registering an order, and will be available to help arrange for the defendant to pick up personal belongings in a manner that is comfortable and safe.