Stalking, verbal abuse, physical abuse or any form of harassment is alarming. If faced with one of these problems, one way to help defend yourself is to request a protective order from a court.
A protective order (sometimes referred to as a restraining order) is a court order for a person to do and/or not do certain things. For example, a protective order may bar an individual from contact with another person or family, or bar a person from going near a certain place. The goal is to keep the peace and prevent bad things from happening.
A protective order is a civil law remedy for abusive or harassing behavior. In Missouri, these orders come in two types: an ex parte order and a full order. Ex parte orders are generally for emergency domestic violence situations where there is "good cause" (an immediate and present threat of abuse). However, an ex-parte order is only valid until a full order hearing can be held, which is generally 15 days after an ex-parte order is issued.
Even if an ex-parte order request is not granted, a hearing for a full order will be scheduled. Unlike an ex-parte hearing, both sides can tell their story at a full order hearing. If the person requesting the order can prove he or she is a victim of abusive or harassing behavior, the judge will issue a full protective order good for between 180 days and one year. When a child is involved, the court must consider numerous factors, the focus is always on the best interests of the child.
Missouri restraining orders and orders of protection are taken seriously, as is the violation of such. A first-time violation of an order will result in a Class A misdemeanor. A second conviction for the same offense will be charged as a Class D felony offense.
If you or a family member is being abused or harassed, an order of protection may be the next appropriate step. For help, contact an experienced St. Louis attorney to discuss your situation and your options.