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The Strategy Employed to Counter a Petition for a Restraining Order

Interviewer: What strategies can be employed to avoid having a protective passed against a person?

Danielle Hawkes: The strategy you need to use is just to show that the evidence isn’t what it looks like, or to show other evidence that clarifies that really you’re not the harasser or you’re not causing this person harm. There’s a lot of different ways you can do that. For example, if they file a protective order, but you guys have never lived together or you’ve never have children together or you’ve never been married, then really a protective order should not be entered, because they haven’t prove in the cohabitation element that’s required.

Then on the other side of the coin, if there hasn’t been harm, of if the story has been misleading, it’s really important for the respondent to correct the story. Maybe text messages are missing. Maybe only one text message they provided to the court, what were the other text messages surrounding that? What was the context of that conversation? We can really defend against these. In these situations, whether defensible, it’s very possible to defend against these and get them dismissed. Some attorneys think that it’s not possible to get these dismissed, and that’s a misconception. These very frequently get dismissed, because they’re not justifiable.

There are No Witnesses Involved in the First Hearing for a Protective Order

Interviewer: How is evidence presented or gather? Would there be witnesses involved?

Danielle Hawkes: No. The first hearing that the court is not going to take any witnesses. What I like to do is present all of the evidence on paper before the court, several days before the hearing. I like to file all my evidence several days before the hearing. That way, the court has time to review my position, my client position before we even step foot in the court room. Once I get into the court room really just answering basic questions that the court may have. What I like to do is prepare a statement, my client’s statement. The story, the timeline, is very succinctly presented for the court. Then I also like to give the court photographs, police records, audio recording, any evidence we can. I like to get that to the court. It’s a very short timeline. It’s very tricky to do. I try and get it to the court, several days before the hearing.

Photographs of Injuries Sustained or Eye Witness Testimony of Abuse are Effective Pieces of Evidence in a Protective Order Hearing

Interviewer: What is typically the best kind of evidence that really works? Which is most successful I guess for someone?

Danielle Hawkes: That kind of evidence will be photograph injuries, or if someone’s leaving you packages on your doorstep and your car, things like that, photograph of that. Then testimony can be very helpful. Either testimony from my clients or testimony from other people who witnessed abuse. Family members often see what’s going on, and their testimony in written statements can be very helpful. Police records are helpful. It’s important that people report to the police what’s going on. Audio recordings and video can also be very helpful.

Protective Orders are Applicable as Long as the Petitioner Doesn’t Ask For their Dismissal

Interviewer: How long do protective orders last?

Danielle Hawkes: Protective orders are going to be in place indefinitely, until somebody asks them to be dismissed. The petitioner can ask for them to be dismissed whenever. The respondent can ask for them to be dismissed in 2 years. A child’s protective order is valid for 150 days, unless the judge says otherwise. In an adult protective order, the provisions that are for safety, they’re indefinite. Those have to be specifically requested to be dismissed. However, the provisions that handle custody and visitation and property and things like that, those only last 150 days.

A Protective Order for Children Can be extended after 150 Days

Interviewer: Can I renew a protective order after 150 days?

Danielle Hawkes: A protective order is going to be in place indefinitely, but for a child, where it’s only 150 days, yes. You can ask for it to be renewed. If the situation is going to require more protection, then the court, from the get go, makes it longer. The court’s really very hands on in the juvenile court. Yes, you can definitely request an extension or another protective order on behalf of the child if 150 days is not enough.

Interviewer: Could a parent file for protective order?

Danielle Hawkes: Yes. Anybody can file a protective order on behalf of a child that they’re interested in. Often times if there are children involved, then the court will often times appoint a guardian ad litem. A guardian ad litem is an attorney for the child it’s an attorney that’s separate from either of the parent’s attorneys, and will advocate on behalf of the child.