An order of protection is an order issued by the family court to protect an abused person by stopping the abuser from the ability to abuse, threaten to abuse, or molest the victim. The order forbids the abuser from communicating or attempting to communicate with the victim in any way, including preventing the abuser from entering the victim’s places of residence, employment, education, or other location as the court may determine.

It has some teeth to it because a violation of this order is a criminal offense punishable by 30 days in jail or a fine of $200. Additionally, it may constitute contempt of court punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine up to $1,500. If a police officer determines that a person has violated an order of protection, he may arrest the accused without obtaining an arrest warrant.

A hearing for the order of protection is heard in the family court by a family court judge. If a petition is filed seeking an order of protection, the hearing can be heard within twenty-four hours. The person seeking the order of protection must show that the accused person committed some sort of abuse: physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the threat of physical harm.

An order of protection is only available when the victim and the abuser are mutual household members, such as spouses, former spouses, persons who have a child in common, or a man and woman who are cohabitating or have formerly lived together. The victim can be a minor child.

If an order of protection is granted, the person accused of abuse can be prohibited from any contact with the petitioner for a term from 6 months to a year. The court may also order temporary custody and visitation for any children; temporary financial support for both petitioner and the children; and temporary possession of a residence and personal property.

Domestic violence and abuse is serious, and is treated seriously by our courts. A judge determines after trial whether to issue an order of protection. During the trial, both parties have the right to offer witnesses and cross-examine the witnesses of the other. The rules of evidence apply. It is not to be taken lightly.

The family law attorneys at Holland & Usry, P.A., have handled many order of protection hearings over the years. We have both defended the accused and prosecuted on behalf of the abused. If you are facing an order of protection (or if you believe your safety requires an order be placed against someone) and would like to discuss it with one of our lawyers, please do not hesitate to contact our office toll-free at 888.230.1841 to set up a consultation.

John Holland
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John Holland is a Spartanburg Family law attorney, practicing since 2012.