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Basics of Orders of Protection Presented by: DarKenya W. Waller Managing Attorney Legal Aid Society of Middle TN and the Cumberlands February 25, 2015.

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Presentation on theme: "Basics of Orders of Protection Presented by: DarKenya W. Waller Managing Attorney Legal Aid Society of Middle TN and the Cumberlands February 25, 2015."— Presentation transcript:

1 Basics of Orders of Protection Presented by: DarKenya W. Waller Managing Attorney Legal Aid Society of Middle TN and the Cumberlands February 25, 2015

2 Purpose of the Presentation To provide a basic understanding of the mechanics of Orders of Protections Ex Parte Order of Protection Order of Protection Enforcement Remedies and Violations Order of Protection Extensions Full Faith and Credit (T.C.A §36-3-622)

3 What is an Order of Protection? A court order that protects you from Domestic Abuse; Sexual Assault; or Stalking Allows for an immediate, warrantless arrest of those in violation of the court Order.

4 Ex Parte Order of Protection

5 Is the Petitioner eligible for an Order of Protection (OP)? Is the Petitioner a victim of domestic abuse? (RELATIONSHIP REQUIRED) Spouses; Live(d) together; Dating/sexual relationship; Related by blood or adoption; Adult or minor children of those listed above.

6 Is the Petitioner eligible for an Order of Protection (OP)? Is the petitioner a sexual assault victim? (NO RELATIONSHIP REQUIREMENT) Aggravated rape; Rape; Statutory Rape; Rape of a Child; Aggravated Sexual Battery; Sexual Battery; Sexual Battery by an Authority Figure.

7 Is the Petitioner eligible for an Order of Protection (OP)? Is the petitioner a stalking victim? (NO RELATIONSHIP REQUIREMENT)

8 Minors as Petitioners and Respondents The Petitioners and Respondents can be adults or minors. If the petitioner is a minor, the following may sign the petition: parent or guardian; caseworker at a not-for-profit organization; Guardian ad Litem; Department of Children’s Services.

9 SPECIAL NOTE There is no Statute of Limitations on the abuse for filing the OP There is no requirement to file a police report or other criminal charges

10 Is there “good cause” for an OP? Is there an immediate and present danger of abuse to the petitioner? Consider: A history of violence; Respondent’s pattern of conduct; Petitioner’s injuries; Petitioner’s fear of retaliation; Respondent’s access to weapons; Respondent’s history of stalking; Respondent’s criminal record; Respondent’s use of drugs or alcohol; Respondent’s threats of suicide; Respondent’s history of mental illness; Threats to attack the petitioner, the children, or other family members; Threats to animals (pets); Threats or attacks on family or household members.

11 Is there “good cause” for an OP? Court Costs (T.C.A. § 36-3-617) There is NO INITIAL FEE for a petition to the court for any action on an order of protection. If the court does not issue or extend an order of protection, the court may assess all court costs against the petitioner if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence: (a) the petitioner is not a victim and that such determination is not based on the petitioner’s request to dismiss the order, failure to attend the hearing or incorrectly filling out the petition; AND (b) the petitioner knew that the allegations were false at the time the petition was filed.

12 SPECIAL NOTE Ex Parte orders stay in effect until the time of the hearing on the matter. (T.C.A. § 36-3-605) Courts shall use the Administrative Office of the Courts forms. (T.C.A. § 36-3-604) If the petitioner does not meet the standard of proof for the ex parte order, the judge is required to set a hearing for review. If the ex parte order is dismissed, the judge must hear the pending petition.


14 Relief Available under an Ex Parte OP Directing the respondent to refrain from committing or threatening additional acts of abuse, including domestic abuse, sexual assault, and stalking against the petitioner and the minor children; Prohibiting the defendant from coming about the petitioner for any purpose, from telephoning, contacting, or otherwise communicating with the petitioner directly or indirectly; Ordering the respondent to leave the shared residence while the order of protection petition is pending a hearing.



17 Once the respondent has been served or has actual knowledge of the order he or she can be arrested for any violation. (T.C.A. §36-3-611) Violations of ex parte orders of protection do not require physical contact. Enforcement Remedies of the Ex Parte Order: Civil Contempt (T.C.A. § 36-3-610/T.C.A. § 36-3-612) Criminal Contempt (T.C.A. § 36-3-610/T.C.A.§ 36-3-612) Warrantless Arrest (T.C.A. § 36-3-611(a)) Enforcement of the Ex Parte OP


19 BURDEN OF PROOF Preponderance of the Evidence (T.C.A. § 36-3-606)

20 FINDINGS UNDER THE OP Courts should make findings of fact regarding the order of protection. Findings should reflect the grounds for the order of protection, whether domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking. The Order provides options for findings on (1) the abuse, (2) the children and (3) Firearms.







27 STATE AND FEDERAL FIREARMS REQUIREMENTS T.C.A. § 36-3-625 requires that a judge, upon issuing an order that complies with provisions of 18 U.S.C.S. § 922 (g) (8), must order the respondent to terminate physical possession of firearms by any lawful means within 48 hours of granting the order.

28 SPECIAL NOTE Respondent must complete an “Affidavit of Firearm Dispossession” form and return it to the court. The court should set a date certain for the return of this form. There are no exceptions for law enforcement officers or military personnel.


30 Additional Relief Under OP The Court is not limited to the relief specifically enumerated in the statute. Other remedies include: Payment of utilities; Cost of replacement of locks; Use of an automobile; Return of immigration and other important papers; Restitution for property damage.

31 SPECIAL NOTE The parties can agree to an Order of Protection or Consent Agreement. It has the same effect as if there was a hearing. MUTUAL ORDERS OF PROTECTIONS AND NO CONTACT ORDERS ARE NOT PERMITTED IN TENNESSEE AND ARE UNENFORCEABLE. Unless there is a cross or counter complaint filed and fully proven before the court.

32 ENFORCEMENT REMEDIES AND VIOLATIONS A violation of an order of protection can result in one or all of the following: Civil Contempt Criminal Contempt Violation of Protective Order Misdemeanor 5 or 10 Year Extension Aggravated Assault Unlawful Possession of a Firearm Civil and Criminal Contempt are available for both the ex parte order and the order of protection.

33 Violation of Protective Order (T.C.A. § 39-13-113) Only applies in cases where: Notice; Opportunity to appear and be heard; Specific findings of fact that the person had committed domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking.

34 SPECIAL NOTE Tennessee law makes the violation of a protective order a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. (T.C.A. § 39-13-113)

35 OP EXTENSIONS Initial OPs – up to 1 year Can be extended upon motion. Considerations for Extensions: Has the order of protection been effective in stopping the violence and keeping the respondent away? Does the petitioner fear that the respondent will continue the abusive behavior that resulted in the order of protection?

36 OP EXTENSIONS 1 st Violation – OP Extended for 5 years 2 nd Violation – OP Extended for 10 years. (T.C.A. § 36-3-605(d)) 5 or 10 Year Extension The initial petition must have been served according to statute. The Respondent must have been given an opportunity to be heard. The order may be extended upon the petitioner’s motion or sua sponte. (T.C.A. § 36-3-605(d))

37 SPECIAL NOTE If a divorce complaint is filed, the order of protection shall remain in effect until the court in which the divorce action lies modifies or dissolves the order. (T.C.A. §36-3-603)

38 FULL FAITH AND CREDIT (T.C.A. § 36-3-622) Valid and enforceable in any county of the state. Valid foreign orders shall be given full faith and credit. Validity requires notice and an opportunity to be heard. Foreign orders need not be registered. A copy of a foreign order may be relied upon.

39 Employees of Non-profit organizations who work to assist terrified victims navigate the court system. Advocates are friends of the court and are there to help. Advocates encourage you to call on them to speak with victims before they dismiss OP Petitions. Advocates encourage you to call on them to speak with victims before the present their OP case. What is an Advocate?


41 RESOURCES Legal Aid Society of Middle TN and the Cumberlands TN Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence TN Administrative Offices of the Courts For resources for attorneys nationwide on domestic violence including publications, a listserve, and technical assistance and training for attorneys representing victims of domestic violence, review the ABA website, For safety planning, look to the Women’s Law Initiative, Safety Planning –

42 Contact Info. DarKenya W. Waller, Esq. Legal Aid Society 300 Deaderick Street Nashville, TN 37201 (615) 780-7118 (off) (615) 244-4920 (fx)

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