What is a protective order and how far-reaching is it?
A protective order is a civil court order that restricts the contact certain people may have with the "petitioner" (the person requesting the order). The person restricted by the order is called the "respondent."
A protective order requires one or more individuals over the age of 18 to refrain from directly or indirectly contacting the petitioner and from threatening, abusing or harassing any member of the petitioner's household. The judge can create various exceptions, or modifications, as conditions of the protective order. For example, if the petitioner requests, a judge may create a modification of the protective order that would permit contact between the parties only for purposes of child visitation.
A judge can order a number of conditions as part of the protective order. These conditions include, but are not limited to: ordering a respondent to vacate a residence or not to possess firearms. If the petitioner requests that the respondent be prohibited from having firearms, a hearing is required before the court can grant such a request. If the respondent receives notice of the hearing, even if he or she is not present, then the court can issue an order prohibiting the respondent from having any firearms.
A protective order is entirely separate from any criminal matter. If you wish to file a criminal complaint, you need to contact the Prosecutor's Office. Protective orders are now filed in the Clerk's Office.
For information about Protective Orders visit The Self-Service Legal Center.