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Coronavirus and Domestic Violence: Protecting You and Your Family

As COVID-19 has compelled government leaders to issue stay-at-home orders and lockdown policies, domestic violence incidents are increasing around the world.  Many people are forced into seclusion with an abusive significant other and deprived of significant resources and assistance that would be otherwise available.  Protecting yourself and your family has become much more dangerous and complex.

If you or a family member is in immediate danger, call 911.  The police can assist with obtaining an Emergency Protective Order (EPO).  An EPO lasts for forty-eight (48) hours, providing a victim of domestic violence the chance to seek a longer protective order.

A protective order can also be obtained through an affidavit or testimony before a judge or magistrate in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.  This initial protective order is called a Preliminary Protective Order (PPO) and lasts for two weeks until the final hearing. At the final hearing, the judge will decide whether to issue a Final Protective Order (FPO) that can last up to two years.

What to Expect at a Hearing

In Virginia, protective order proceedings are one of the few matters still actively being heard by the Courts under the Supreme Court’s Order declaring a judicial emergency and our attorneys are still appearing in court regularly on these matters.

At the final hearing, the person seeking the Protective Order must prove that (1) an act of family abuse occurred and (2) the protective order is necessary for his or her continued health and safety.  Many people seeking Protective Orders fail to appreciate the gravity of the final hearing and prepare accordingly.  The burden of proof and evidentiary rules are crucial legal hurdles that any person seeking a protective order must understand.

Knowing what to expect is the first step to ensuring all information is properly conveyed to the Judge.  Both parties, the person seeking the Protective Order and the person against whom the Order is sought, will be present in the same courtroom.  Each party will have the opportunity to testify and call witnesses, including the other party.  Judges will often interrupt the proceedings to ask questions, rule on objections, or review the evidence.  Any pictures, witnesses, recordings, or other proof or evidence should be brought and presented to the Judge.  Once each side has presented their evidence, the Judge will decide if a Final Protective Order should be entered or not.

Contact a Lawyer in Northern Virginia

If you are seeking advice or assistance with obtaining a Protective Order or if someone is seeking a Protective Order against you, we have experienced attorneys who know the ins and outs of Protective Orders and related matters.  Our attorneys are skilled at consultation and representation of both sides of Protective Orders and are ready to help.  If you have questions, please call 703-222-333 or visit our website and fill-in the online contact form at https://shoun.com.

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