Orders of Protection
Defending against an Order of Protection is just as important as defending against a criminal charge. Unfortunately, Orders of Protection and criminal charges often go hand in hand. It is important to understand the difference between an order of protection and formal criminal charges. In many instances, the allegations contained in a Petition for Order of Protection constitute criminal conduct. Sometimes, criminal charges are filed prior to or contemporaneously with the Petition for Emergency Order of Protection. The most common example arises out of a domestic dispute between significant others. The police are called, someone is arrested, charged with domestic battery, and an order of protection follows. Sometimes, criminal charges are never filed. Other times, criminal charges are filed after order of protection proceedings in large part due to the evidence and testimony presented at the hearing.
If someone obtains an order of protection against you on an emergency basis without your participation at the initial hearing, you will have the right to defend yourself at the subsequent hearing to extend the emergency order of protection. However, order of protection hearings are civil, not criminal, proceedings. This means that the level of proof to obtain or extend the order of protection is much lower and the Respondent is not afforded the same protections he or she would be at a criminal trial, such as the right against self-incrimination. If you become party to an order of protection, you need to understand that your testimony at the order of protection hearing could be used against you at a criminal trial or could cause criminal charges to be filed when they were not filed in the first place. The consequences of your testimony at an order of protection hearing can be severe. That is why it is important to have an experienced attorney represent you to avoid any further damage to your reputation, since that order of protection will show up in LEADS (Law Enforcement Agencies Data System) and on your criminal history.