Domestic and family violence remain to be prevalent problems in today’s world. However, there are legal devices that can help abuse victims. One such tool is an order for protection (“OFP”).
What Is an OFP?
An order for protection, often referred to as an “OFP”, is a court order that prohibits an alleged abuser from having any direct or indirect contact with an alleged victim. Violating an OFP can result in severe consequences including criminal charges.
Who Can File an OFP?
An OFP requires an alleged abuse victim to have a special relationship with the alleged abuser including:
- A blood relation (e.g. father, brother, aunt, cousin, etc.)
- Intimate relations or cohabitation
- Joint parentage over a child
If one does not fall under one of these categories, then they should obtain a harassment restraining order (“HRO”). An HRO does not require any specific relationship between the alleged victim and the alleged abuser.
What Is the Process for Filing an OFP?
There are multiple steps to acquiring an OFP.
Step 1. Filing a Petition
The first step is to file a petition for an OFP. The petition must be accompanied by an affidavit from the alleged victim, which details the abuse. An OFP does not require physical violence. Along with physical violence an OFP can also be justified by:
- Infliction of fear of imminent physical harm
- Threat of a crime or act of violence
- Sexual misconduct
- Interference with an emergency call
Step 1a. Acquiring a Temporary OFP
Once a person files an OFP, depending on the allegations, a judge may grant an emergency ex part order. Such an OFP is only temporary until there is a hearing for the full OFP.
Step 2: The Hearing
To obtain a full OFP, the parties will have to attend a hearing before a judge. After both parties have had the opportunity to make their arguments, if the judge rules that the alleged abuse has occurred, a full OFP will issued.
How Long Does an OFP Last?
An OFP can last for up to two years. However, the protected individual can petition for an extension before the original OFP expires.
Should I Get a Lawyer to Help File an OFP?
OFPS are analyzed by a judge on an individual basis and can involve complicated determinations. OFP hearings can turn into mini trials with witness testimony and contested evidence. Having the assistance of a skilled and experienced lawyer will increase your chances of an OFP being issued.
Can You Contest an OFP?
Although OFPs are well-intentioned, the use of false allegations to acquire an OFP can result in improper advantages in a divorce or custody proceedings. Our firm can help you contest false allegations and combat a petition or inform you of your legal options if an OFP has already been issued against you.
However, even if the underlying allegations are false, if you already have an OFP against you, it is important that you do not make any contact with the protected person. Any communication with the protected person is a violation of the OFP and can have adverse consequences, even a response to contact initiated by the protected individual.
Contact Us If you are in need of an OFP or need to contest false allegations that have been made against you, contact Dudley and Smith, P.A. Our firm has multiple skilled attorneys who can walk you through your legal options.
The law is continually evolving and Dudley and Smith, P.A.’s blog posts should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship. Postings are for informational purposes and are not solicitations, legal advice, or tax advice. A viewer of Dudley and Smith, P.A.’s blog should not rely upon any information in the blog without seeking legal counsel.