Temporary Protective Order (TPO)

A temporary protective order (TPO) is issued by a civil court and provides legal protection if someone has abused or harassed you or has threatened to do so.

Obtaining A Temporary Protective Order

To obtain a temporary protective order, the victim fills out a petition (application) for the TPO, indicating the harm or threats made by the defendant. The petitioner appears before a judge for just a few minutes, during which time the judge reviews the request for a TPO and determines whether the allegations warrant the issuance of an immediate order of protection, even though the defendant is not there to tell his or her version of events. This process is called an "ex parte" hearing because one party to the action (the defendant) is not present. If the judge issues the temporary protective order, it will provide immediate legal protection for the victim. However, the ONLY protection it provides is legal protection; obviously, a TPO doesn't create a physical barrier; it can only provide for serious criminal consequences (including arrest, criminal charges and incarceration) if the defendant violates it.

The ex-parte temporary protective order has a very short duration, usually two to three weeks. During that time, the defendant must be properly served with notice that the TPO has been issued and notified of the court date when the case will be heard and a determination on extending the order for as long as 12 months will be made. The sheriff of the county in which the defendant lives usually serves the defendant. The defendant may not have any contact with the accuser, and a violation of the order can result in arrest and incarceration.

Within a few weeks of the issuance of the ex-parte temporary protective order, the victim and the defendant both appear before the judge, either representing themselves (this is known as pro se representation) or being represented by an attorney. Each party tells its version of the events leading up to the issuance of the TPO, and the judge determines, based on the evidence, whether there is sufficient cause to extend the order by as much as 12 months (commonly referred to as the issuance of a 12-month TPO) or whether the case should be dismissed and the temporary protective order removed.

At all times while the temporary protective order is in effect, the victim must carry a copy of it. If the defendant violates the terms of the TPO (which usually prohibits any contact via phone, text or email and, of course, in-person contact), the victim can call the local police, show them the TPO, and the defendant may be arrested by the police and charged with violating the TPO.

If you are facing harassment, domestic abuse or threats of either or if you feel you have been wrongly accused of such abuse, call Hecht Family Law immediately at 678-926-9234 and let's discuss the appropriate measures you need to take. Temporary protective orders are a serious matter, and any delay in obtaining competent, confident representation could significantly affect the outcome of your case, regardless of whether you are the victim or the defendant. Call us at 678-926-9234 and we'll determine how best to deal with the temporary protective order and the hearing(s) in the matter.