Being the victim of violence or threat of violence can be terrifying. To protect those who are being abused, or who are the potential victims of violent acts, the state of Virginia offers several types of protective orders which are available to any party who is alleged to be a victim of any act involving violence or the threat of violence. While protective orders are designed to prevent the alleged abusive party from causing harm or threatening the victim, sometimes, these orders are violated. Here’s what you need to know about what to do if your spouse violates a protective order, or a temporary injunction, in Virginia:
What Does a Protective Order Do?
The three types of protective orders that may be issued by a Virginia court include an emergency protective order, a preliminary protective order, and a protective order. The first only lasts for three days, and then can be transitioned into a different protective order type, while a preliminary protective order lasts for 15 days or until a full hearing, and a final protective order can last up to two years.
A protective order can prohibit the abusive party from contacting you or your family members, prohibit any acts of violence, grant the temporary possession of a shared house or vehicle to you, prohibit the offending party to carry a firearm, and more.
What’s a Temporary Injunction?
A temporary injunction is a court order that either requires or prevents a party from doing something. In a divorce or domestic violence case, for example, a temporary restraining order/protective order is a type of injunction. Another example of a temporary injunction may be an order that requires a party to make temporary spousal support or child support payments.
What Happens if a Protective Order or Temporary Injunction Is Violated by My Spouse?
Violation of a court order, whatever that order may be, is a serious offense that can carry penalties. In fact, Virginia Code Section 18.2-60.4 reads that any person who violates the provisions of a protective order is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor offense, and if a subsequent violation occurs within five years, the offending party will face a minimum of 60 days in jail. A third offense is considered a Class 6 felony charge, which carries a mandatory minimum term confinement of six months. While a person cannot be held in contempt of court and face criminal penalties for a violation of a protective order, they may be held in contempt for the violation of a separate temporary injunction, or be found in contempt if criminal charges are brought forth.
What You Should Do if Your Protective Order Is Breached
If you have a protective order against your spouse, the breach of that order could be a very scary thing; you may even fear for your safety or your life. If the protective order is breached, it is very important that you act to protect yourself. Steps you should take (but not necessarily in this order) include:
- Call the police. If your spouse violates a protective order, the police should be notified immediately. Be specific with the police about exactly what happened and ask what remedy will be taken.
- Get to a safe place. If you are worried about your safety or the safety of anyone else in your home, get to a place where you are safe, and your spouse cannot cause you harm immediately. This might include the home of a friend or a family member, an address that is unknown to your spouse, or even a safe house.
- Call your attorney. Your attorney will be able to help you take action against your spouse to ensure enforcement of a court order if one is breached, or to pursue further actions against your spouse. If you have not already filed for a divorce, your attorney can help you to initiate this proceeding as well.
Our Experienced Attorneys Can Help
The attorneys at the law offices of Olmstead & Olmstead, P.C. recognize how serious domestic disputes involving domestic violence are, and the importance of protective orders and other temporary injunctions. If your spouse violates a court order, do not hesitate to notify the police and call our law offices for a consultation. You can reach us at 703-361-1555, or by sending us a brief message describing your case using the online form on our contact page. You’re also welcome to drop by our office in person at your convenience.