Under Virginia law, the term “no contact order” refers to an order issued by the criminal court in a criminal case. The order means the defendant in the case is not allowed to have direct or indirect contact with the alleged victim. If the defendant violates the order, the court can issue a warrant for their arrest.
A protective order, on the other hand, is issued by a civil court, either the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court or the General District Court. The court issues the protective order when the person who suffered the abuse files a petition regarding the abuse. The victim does not have to press criminal charges to seek a protective order. There can be a no contact provision in a protective order.
Request From the Right Court
A victim should request a protective order from the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court in Virginia when the abuser is a family or household member. They should also request the protective order from this court if the petitioner, the person requesting the protective order, or the respondent, the person committing acts of violence or threatening behavior, is under 18. If the abuser is not a family or household member, the petitioner should make their request for a protective order through the General District Court.
Types of Protective Orders
The three types of protective orders are: emergency protective order (EPO), preliminary protective order (PPO) and protective order (PO). An EPO expires at the end of the third day after it is issued or the next day that the court is in session, whichever is later. A PPO lasts for 15 days or until the court holds a full hearing. A protective order is issued after the full hearing and may last up to two years.
Notes on Court Proceedings
If the petitioner does not go to a full hearing, the PPO will end on the date of the hearing. A protective order will not take effect until the respondent has been personally served with the order. In order to find out whether the respondent has been served, the petitioner can call the law enforcement office in the respondent’s area.
What a Protective Order Does
A law enforcement officer or a victim can petition for an EPO. A magistrate or a judge can issue an EPO. In all cases, an EPO can prohibit contact with the victim, the victim’s family and household members. Also, in all cases, a judge can prohibit possession of a companion animal by another person if the petitioner owns the animal. In cases of family abuse, a judge can grant temporary possession of the residence to family and household members.
Only a judge can issue a PPO. A PPO prohibits a respondent from contacting a petitioner. In cases of family abuse, a judge can grant temporary possession of the residence to family or household members, require the respondent to maintain or restore utility services for the household, grant temporary possession of a jointly owned vehicle, or require the respondent to provide suitable alternative housing for family or household members.
Only a judge can issue a PO. A PO also prohibits the respondent from contacting the petitioner. In cases of family abuse, a judge can require a respondent to participate in treatment, counseling or other programs required by the court. The judge can also provide for temporary custody or visitation of a minor child.
Penalty for a Violation of a Virginia Protective Order
A violation of a protective order is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. A second conviction for violating a protective order within five years of the prior conviction, and when the instant or prior offense was based on an act or threat of violence, carries a mandatory minimum term of incarceration of 60 days.
A third or subsequent offense of violating a protective order within 20 years of the first conviction, and when the instant or prior offense was based on an act or threat of violence, is a Class 6 felony. The mandatory minimum term of incarceration is six months. The mandatory minimum term of confinement will be served consecutively with any other sentence.
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.