1. I have a no contact order from the criminal case. Is that the same as the Order of Protection? No. A "no contact" order is given as a condition of the bond that the judge gives. It only lasts from the time the person is released from jail until the time of their criminal trial (this can occur in less than 30 days in some cases). It is usually written on the bond sheet. The "no contact" order is not entered into any criminal database like an Order of Protection. The only way for a "no contact" order to be enforced is for the victim of the crime to report if it has been violated and then ask the judge to have the abuser's bond revoked. This does not happen very often.
2. Does it cost anything to file for an Order of Protection? No. Filing the paperwork is free. The Sheriff's Office will also serve the paperwork on the Respondent for free.
3. Do I have to file a police report to obtain an Order of Protection? No. You can be granted an Order of Protection even if you have not called the police. However, it is usually a good idea to call the police if you have been a victim of crime or if you need protection. If you file a police report about the abuse, you will usually be assigned a victim's advocate who can help explain the Order of Protection process.
4. What if I have an ongoing divorce/separation case? If you already have an ongoing case and need an Order of Protection, you will need to file a Motion for Further Relief in that case. If you have an attorney for that case, you should talk to him/her about your situation and tell them that you need protection. If you don't have an attorney for your divorce or separation, you can access the form for the motion on the Court's website: www.sccourts.org/forms
5. What if I don't know the Respondent's social security number or address? If you do not know the SSN, you can leave this part blank. You will have to provide an address for the Respondent so that the Sheriff's Office can serve him/her with the paperwork. If you do not have their address, you may be able to serve them at a family member's residence, place of employment, or other location. If you do not have an address at all, the Court will not be able to go forward with the hearing.
6. Do I have to come to the court hearing to get the Order of Protection? Yes. If you do not come on time for the scheduled hearing, your case will be dismissed. If something has happened so that you can't come or you are going to be late, you will need to call the clerk's office immediately and ask for a contiunance.
7. Can I bring my child with me to court? Not usually. Most judges do not allow children to be present for court. They may ask you to remove your child from the courthouse if you bring them. Some judges may allow you to bring your child in as a witness to the abuse if they are old enough to know about court and could explain what happened. It is up to the judge in each case to make that decision.
8. I am planning on moving out of state--will my Order still be effective? Yes. Your Order of Protection will be effective inside the United States. You can file for a new Order of Protection in the other state if something else happens while you are there. You may also want to register your Order of Protection with the Clerk of Court in that state.
9. I was served with papers by the Respondent after court--what do I need to do? If you have been served with court papers (e.g. divorce, separation, custody), you only have thirty (30) days to respoond. There may also be a court hearing scheduled. You should speak with an attorney right away to make sure your rights are protected.
10. I received my Order of Protection. Can I contact the Respondent if the Order isn't mutual? If you have been granted an Order of Protection which states that the only person restrained is the Respondent, then you could not technically be in violation of the Order. BUT-you should not contact the Respondent in any way. If you begin contacting the Respondent or allowing the Respondent to contact you, this may lead to further unwanted contact by someone who has abused you and may take the opportunity to abuse you further. In some cases, police and judges can be hesitant to enforce the Order of Protection if you have allowed ongoing contact.