What is an Order of Protection?

  • An Order of Protection (“OP” for short) is a document from the court, signed by a judge, that tells a person that they cannot engage in certain behaviors. Orders of Protection are sometimes referred to as Restraining Orders or Protective Orders. Young people may obtain orders of protection against abusive partners.

  • Every Order of Protection is different and can be tailored to suit your needs. An OP can be a full “stay away” order, requiring another person to stay away from you, and possibly stay away from your home, school, place of work, and sometimes your children. This type of OP also can also require the person to stop communicating with you by mail, email, social media, or any other means. A “limited OP” means the person cannot harass, abuse, or threaten you, but they do not typically prevent all contact between you. Look at the provisions of your OP to see what is included for you.

  • New York State law makes it a crime for someone to share intimate images or videos of another person without their consent. If this has happened to you, it can give you a reason — the grounds — to seek an order of protection against the person who shared the intimate video or image. The order can include language specifically telling the person not to share images of you. 

  • In New York, there are a few different ways to obtain an Order of Protection, but at Day One we primarily help clients get them through either Criminal Court or Family Court. Before the court makes a decision to issue a final OP, a temporary OP can be issued to protect you while the case goes through the legal system. The length of the order of protection depends on the specific circumstances.

How do I get an Order of Protection in Criminal Court and what role will the police play?

  • You can receive a criminal Order of Protection if there is an active criminal case against the person who has harmed you. A criminal case may start once a crime has been committed and reported, and there has been an arrest. If you want to pursue this route, you would need to involve the police and file a police report about the conduct. You can call Day One if you have questions or need support with filing a police report.

  • In Criminal Court, you would not be suing the abuser. Instead, an Assistant District Attorney (ADA) would argue the case against the abuser, who is the defendant. An ADA represents the government, and you are not their client. Your role in a criminal case is as a complaining witness or crime victim.

  • Once charges are filed, the ADA can request that the court grant you an order of protection while the case goes through the legal system. If the case proceeds to a trial, you may be required to testify about your experiences that led to the order of protection. In other cases, the abusive partner may be asked to take a plea agreement to end the case without a trial. If that happens, you likely would not need to testify and could possibly still get a final order of protection.

  • If the charges against the abuser are dropped, your order of protection will end.

  • In Criminal Court, you do not need to have an intimate relationship with the person who caused you harm in order to receive an order of protection.

  • Call Day One for more information if you have questions about this process.

How do I get a Family Court Order of Protection?

  • In Family Court, you can only get an OP against someone who falls into one of these categories: a current or former spouse; a person with whom you have a child legally in common; a family member related to you through blood or marriage; or someone with whom you have had an “intimate relationship” (i.e. someone you dated).

  • To get an OP in Family Court, you must first file a Family Offense Petition. A Family Offense Petition is a document that explains the incidents of violence or harm that occurred and asks the court to grant you an OP.  Before the court makes a decision to issue a final OP, a temporary OP can be issued to protect you while the case goes through the legal system.

  • Once an OP is granted it must be served on the other party. “Service” means your abusive partner must be provided with a copy of your order of protection, a summons (which will include information about the next court date), and a copy of your petition, which include the allegations you made against your abusive partner. Information about serving an order of protection can be found here.

  • For many young people, writing out the allegations against an abusive partner in a petition is a big step. When the petition is served, a copy of the petition including the allegations are provided to your abusive partner.

  • Unlike a Criminal Court OP, a Family Court OP is completely directed by you; it is your case. This means you must move the case forward. Typically, you will be required to attend each court appearance. Because the case is directed by you, this also means that you may drop the case at any time if you no longer wish to proceed.

  • Your order of protection will likely continue as the case proceeds. The case ends when a settlement is reached, when the court makes a final determination about your petition after a hearing is concluded, or when your case is dismissed.

  • Day One routinely represents young people in Family Court who want an order of protection. Call us to discuss your options.

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