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Last week I blogged about what constitutes stalking and harassment in Arkansas. I thought I would expand on what the process is for obtaining protection from an abuser, stalker, or harasser. It can all be confusing as to what kind of order you need. There is an Order of Protection, a Restraining Order, and a No Contact Order. How do you know which one you need?

An Order of Protection is for victims of domestic abuse. If it is granted by a judge, the police can arrest the abuser if he or she violates the order. The courts do not charge any fees for this. A Restraining Order stops an individual from harassing another individual. Once it is granted, if a violation occurs, the individual that was violated must request a hearing before the judge. The judge will then determine if a violation did in fact occur. If the judge does find someone in violation of a Restraining Oder, he or she may be required to pay court costs and fees, attorney’s fees and/or serve jail time. A No Contact Order is issued by a criminal court and issued in criminal cases against an abuser as a condition of bail to be released from jail. The main goal in all of these is to legally keep one individual away from another, which includes keeping the abuser away from the victim’s home, the victim’s job, the victim’s church, the victim’s school, or any other place where the victim may go. Additionally, an Order of Protection will require an abuser to move out of the home if it is shared between the abuser and the victim. It also decides who will have temporary custody of children that the two share and will set a temporary visitation schedule and support to the victim and shared children.

What is the process to obtain an Order of Protection?  Appropriate documents will need to be filed with the county courthouse where the victim lives, where the abuser lives, or where the abuse happened. To further protect the victim, he or she is not required to put their physical address on the petition.

Your Order of Protection was granted, now what? If the judge has enough evidence and believes the claims of abuse, he will sign an “Ex Parte Order of Protection.” This is a Temporary Order of Protection. The judge will then set a court hearing within 30 days so that he or she can decide if a permanent Order of Protection is necessary and what the duration of the order should be. You or your legal representative will be required to take the Temporary Order of Protection to the sheriff’s office so that they can serve the abuser (named the “respondent” on the Temporary Order of Protection) the order. This process notifies the abuser that he or she is required to stay away from the victim and notified that a court hearing has been set to determine if a permanent order is necessary. It is important that you give the sheriff’s office as much information as possible so that the abuser can be located and served. The sheriff’s office does not charge for this service. You as the victim are required to attend the permanent hearing. Another important bit of information is that the victim needs to keep a copy of the Order of Protection on them at all times.

What happens at the hearing? This is the victim’s chance to provide evidence about the abuse and why an Order of Protection is needed. This is when witnesses will be brought in and any other evidence presented to prove your case. This is also the respondent’s chance to defend themselves.

What happens if the judge doesn’t grant the Order of Protection? If this happens, the judge may have more questions about the petition or need additional information to have enough evidence. However, you as the victim have the right to explain to the judge why the Order of Protection is needed. In order to explain to the judge and/or present more evidence, you may be required to set another hearing.

Filing the appropriate paperwork, hearings, making opening and closing statements, bringing witnesses in to be questioned about the allegations against the abuser, and gathering evidence can all become very overwhelming. Let Kevin Hickey Law Partners help ease some of the burden and stress from you. We approach each case with the care and attention it deserves. Contact us at 479.434.2414 or chat with us at KevinHickeyLaw.com.

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