Domestic Violence: "I want to get a restraining order to protect myself"
Restraining orders in Georgia are an increasingly important aspect of ensuring that individuals and families feel safe and secure. These legal orders, also known as protective orders, require potential aggressors to refrain from any further contact with their victims. Whether it be physical, emotional, or verbal, restraining orders ensure that neither party can make direct or indirect contact with one another. This not only avoids any potential harm but also helps bring peace of mind to the affected parties and allows them to move on from traumatic experiences. With the legal power to enforce violations of restraining orders, victims can rely on Georgia's legal system to protect them from further harm and ensure their safety. In summary, it is vital to understand the significance of restraining orders in Georgia and recognize the important role they play in safeguarding our communities.
Temporary Protective Orders (TPOs) in Georgia
Restraining orders, also known as temporary protective orders (TPOs) are an essential legal tool for anyone who is in immediate danger of harm. In the state of Georgia, there are three main types of TPOs: Family Violence protective order, Stalking protective order, and Dating Violence protective order. Each type of TPO is designed to address different types of threats, but they all serve the same purpose - to protect victims from harm. If you're unsure of what type of restraining order you need or if you even qualify for one, it's essential to seek legal advice as soon as possible. The process can be intimidating, but with the right support and guidance, victims can take the necessary steps to protect themselves and their loved ones. Remember, safety always comes first.
Family Violence TPO
Family violence is a serious issue, and in Georgia, there are legal protections in place to help victims. Georgia law defines family violence as any felony or commission of the offense of battery, simple battery, simple assault, assault, stalking, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint, or criminal trespass - specifically when committed between past or present spouses, persons who are parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons living or formerly living in the same household. If a judge decides to grant the restraining order due to family violence, the order can require any of the following:
- Direct the respondent (aggressor) to refrain from such violent acts;
- Grant to either party the possession of the residence or household of the parties and exclude the other party from the residence or household;
- Require a party to provide suitable alternate housing for a spouse, former spouse, or parent and the parties' child or children;
- Award temporary custody of minor children and establish temporary visitation rights;
- Order the eviction of a party from the residence or household and order assistance to the victim in returning to it, or order assistance in retrieving personal property of the victim if the respondent's eviction has not been ordered;
- Order either party to make payments for the support of a minor child as required by law;
- Order either party to make payments for the support of a spouse as required by law;
- Provide for possession of personal property of the parties;
- Order the respondent (aggressor) to refrain from harassing or interfering with the victim;
- Award costs and attorney's fees to either party; and
- Order the respondent (aggressor) to receive appropriate psychiatric or psychological services as a further measure to prevent the recurrence of family violence.
A granted TPO is enforceable by law enforcement, and if the respondent shows up at the victim's house or contacts the victim in any way, the police are allowed to arrest the respondent and charge them with the misdemeanor charge of violation of a family violence order or stalking as appropriate. Understanding the parameters of family violence TPOs in Georgia can help support victims and promote healthy relationships within families.
Stalking is a serious and dangerous behavior that is prohibited by Georgia law. It is defined as the act of following someone or appearing at their residence, place of work or any other place frequented by the victim without their consent, and harassing them with unwanted communication or threatening behavior. It can also include having the person placed under surveillance, or contacting other people to find out where the victim of stalking is or has been. In order to protect victims, Georgia courts allow for restraining orders, called Stalking Temporary Protective Orders (TPOs), that prohibit the stalker from engaging in specific activities such as contacting or communicating with the victim, coming within a certain distance of the victim, and possessing firearms. The court could also order one or both of the parties to receive appropriate psychiatric or psychological services as a further measure to prevent the recurrence of stalking. These orders are temporary by nature - generally the length of 12 months - but can be extended if necessary for the safety of the victim. It is important to take the issue of stalking seriously and seek help from law enforcement or legal professionals if you or someone you know is a victim of this dangerous behavior.
Dating Violence TPO
Dating violence is a serious issue that unfortunately affects many individuals in Georgia. However, there is hope in the form of the new law established in 2021, allowing for restraining orders in the form of Dating Violence Temporary Protective Orders (TPOs). To obtain one, it must be proven that the parties involved were in a dating relationship in the last 12 months or that one party is pregnant with the other party's child, along with evidence of dating violence. This can include offenses such as simple battery, battery, simple assault, stalking, or any felony offense. If the judge grants the Dating Violence TPO, the order can do any of the following: tell the other person to stop with the acts resulting in dating violence, provide for possession of personal property of the parties, order the aggressor to stop harassing or interfering with the victim, award costs and attorney's fees to either party, and order the aggressor to receive appropriate psychiatric, psychological, or educational services as a further measure to prevent the recurrence of dating violence. If you or someone you know has experienced dating violence, a TPO could be a crucial step in ensuring your or their immediate and future safety.
TPO Court Procedure
The court procedure for obtaining a TPO in Georgia can seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be. First, a victim must file a request for an ex parte order, which means the court will hear their side of the story without the accused present. If the judge agrees that there is probable cause for violence or stalking, and that the appropriate relationship status exists between the parties (if applicable) then the judge will grant the ex parte order, which keeps the aggressor from the victim until both sides appear in court to have a hearing on whether the restraining order should be granted or not. This hearing on the TPO will be held within 30 days of the aggressor being notified of the ex parte order. At the hearing, both sides will present evidence as to why the TPO order should or should not be granted. If the judge decides to grant the TPO, then the victim is protected for a timeframe 12 months or less, as the judge decides. It's important to remember that this is a serious legal process, so it's best to seek the help of a qualified lawyer to guide you through it.
Extending a TPO - Permanent Protective Orders (PPOs)
If you're seeking to extend your TPO restraining order past the initial 12 months in Georgia, filing a motion for a Permanent Protective Order (PPO) is a necessary step. This must be done prior to your TPO expiring. The court will schedule a hearing date for your PPO and you'll serve the aggressor with notice, as they have a right to contest the TPO becoming a PPO. After the judge hears the case, and if the PPO is granted, you could potentially have protection for up to 3 years or even a lifetime in some cases. If the request is denied, the TPO will expire at the end of the 12 months, or whenever it is stated on the order. If the aggressor bothers you again after the TPO expires, you will have to start the process to get another restraining order, based on the new actions of violence or harassment that have occurred. Though the process to convert a TPO to a PPO can seem daunting, it's important to stay hopeful and persistent in your efforts for personal safety. As always, consulting with a legal professional can help you navigate the process and ensure that you're preparing your case effectively.
How We Can Help
At Your Law Firm, we understand that situations involving violence and harassment can be overwhelming and frightening. That's why we offer comprehensive legal services for individuals who need protection from family violence, stalking, or dating violence. Our team is here to guide you through the process of filing for a restraining order and answer any questions you may have along the way. Additionally, if you currently have a 12-month TPO, we're here to help you convert it into a PPO for added security and peace of mind. Let us help you take control of your safety and well-being.