Simons, Thurman & Fix, P.C.

Serving Rockbridge County for 30+ Years!

Do I need an attorney for a protective order? The answer is yes

People often ask whether they need an attorney when someone is seeking a protective order against them. It’s a sad fact that individuals will sometimes get falsely accused of violent actions when the opposing party is attempting to gain an advantage in a custody or divorce dispute. Many times, our clients ask: “Is it worth it? I don’t want to communicate with the opposing party anyway, so why not just let the Court enter a protective order against me?”

While we understand individuals thinking in terms of saving money, time, and heartache, it is a very bad idea to allow a protective order to be entered against you. If you have been falsely accused of violent actions leading to a protective order, you should absolutely fight against entry of a protective order. Even if you have done some of the things you are accused of, you should seek legal advice because being subject to a protective order severely limits your basic American freedoms.

Although a protective order is not itself a criminal charge, it subjects you to limitless criminal charges based on the sole word of the protected party. You could be arrested for a Class 1 misdemeanor just based upon the opposing party’s word that you violated the protective order. In fact, you could be arrested based upon the opposing party’s word that you innocently communicated with them in a public place, for example, saying hello at a grocery store. Regardless of the truth of the allegations, you could still be arrested, embarrassed, and forced to post bond or take mug shots. Of course, the Court would later sort out the truth of the allegations, but why risk it?

Another good reason to object to a protective order is to protect your Second Amendment right to bear arms. Virginia law states that possession of a firearm while subject to a protective order is a crime. Even before you have the opportunity to fight an emergency or preliminary protective order, possession of a firearm is a Class 1 misdemeanor with up to twelve (12) months in jail. If the Court enters a Permanent Protective Order (usually lasting only two years) against you, you could be found guilty of a Class 6 Felony for possession of a firearm. You risk being in possession of a firearm if it is easily accessible to you, even if you do not own the firearm. It would be an unwise decision to risk such severe penalties simply to avoid the trouble of presenting your side of the story to the protective order Judge. 

There are many other reasons to object to a protective order. It could affect any professional licenses, your employment, or simply be embarrassing.   

We recently had a client who was falsely accused of violent actions in the context of a custody dispute. She hired Tiffany J. Fix to defend her against these allegations. The opposing party’s claims were so legally insufficient that Ms. Fix was able to get the case dismissed at the motion to strike phase – before even presenting our clients side of the story. While such a quick victory is unusual, what is not unusual is the relief immediately available to our client. She was able to maintain her professional licensure and is now able to live her life freely without the specter of criminal charges looming over her head.

If you are served with a protective order, it is in your best interest to seek legal advice regarding your situation. Even if you agree that you do not want to communicate with the opposing party, do not ignore protective orders.