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Last Updated on: 27th July 2023, 04:33 pm
At the Spodek Law Group, attorney Todd Spodek and his team are dedicated to helping individuals who have had personal protection orders (PPOs) entered against them. Also known as restraining orders, these court orders require the respondent to refrain from threatening, harming, harassing, intimidating, or having contact with the petitioner. Despite the serious consequences of being the subject of a PPO, including jail time, many people are unaware of the impact it can have on their lives.
If you are being harassed or subjected to family offenses by your former spouse, sibling, or intimate partner, you have the right to seek protection through an Order of Protection. However, simply wanting one does not guarantee that a judge will grant it to you. To obtain an Order of Protection, you must first draft and submit a petition in the Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, or Bronx Family Court.
A Personal Protection Order is a legal directive issued by a court to protect individuals from threats, harm, or harassment from someone who has been warned to stop their offensive behavior but failed to do so. If a petitioner can prove to a court that they have a reasonable fear for their safety, a judge may grant a PPO. This can happen without a hearing, in which case it is referred to as an ex parte order, or a hearing may be required to determine if the PPO is justified. It is in the best interest of anyone facing threats or harassment to obtain a PPO as soon as possible.
PPOs can be either domestic or non-domestic in nature. A Domestic Personal Protection Order is applicable when the petitioner and respondent have a familial, domestic, or romantic relationship. This can include blood relatives, relatives by marriage, or people who have lived together. On the other hand, a Non-Domestic PPO is filed when the petitioner is allegedly being assaulted, harassed, or stalked by an acquaintance, coworker, former friend, or stranger.
In a PPO case, the petitioner is the plaintiff and the respondent is the defendant. It’s important to note that although PPO allegations may include references to criminal activity, respondents are not criminal defendants. Unfortunately, many PPOs are the result of false or exaggerated allegations made by petitioners.
A judge in the Family Court can issue either a full or limited Order of Protection. A full Order of Protection prohibits any form of contact, direct or indirect, while a limited Order of Protection allows for normal, everyday contact. However, if either party engages in harassment, threats, or assault, they may face not only criminal charges, but also a Criminal Contempt charge for violating the Order. It is crucial to thoroughly understand the parameters of the Order and to discuss them with your attorney to avoid any misunderstandings and potential violations.
If a PPO has been requested or granted against you, time is of the essence. You have only 14 days from being served or having actual notice of the order (whichever comes first) to take action. Within these 14 days, you must file a Motion to Terminate. If you don’t act within this time frame, the PPO will remain in effect and you will not have the right to a hearing to dispute the accusations. However, even after 14 days, you can still file a motion to modify or terminate specific parts of the PPO.
Many people believe that a PPO doesn’t matter if they have no intention of making contact with the petitioner. This belief is misguided and can have serious consequences. A PPO is entered into the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN), which means it becomes a part of your record. When someone searches the network for your name, the PPO may come up, implying that you are a dangerous person. Moreover, private companies that maintain records for background searches will report PPOs to potential employers, licensing agencies, banks, and other interested parties.
If the petitioner alleges a violation of the PPO, the respondent faces the possibility of jail time. The burden of proof in PPO violations is lower than in criminal cases. The court will rule based on a “preponderance of the evidence,” meaning it will hear from both parties and decide which one presents the more persuasive argument. The petitioner usually gets the benefit of the doubt, unless the respondent provides a strong, credible defense. However, even with this lower burden of proof, the chances of being found guilty of a violation are still higher than in a criminal case and the evidence against you may be minimal. If the court finds you in contempt of the PPO, you may be imprisoned for up to 93 days and fined up to $500. The petitioner can make the same accusations again, leading to repeated jail time and fines, as long as the PPO remains in effect.
Avoiding contact with the petitioner may not protect you from violating the PPO. For example, innocently finding yourself in the same movie theater, grocery store, park, or restaurant as the petitioner can result in an allegation of stalking or harassment, which would be a violation. Additionally, false or exaggerated allegations of a violation can occur even if the petitioner’s original allegations in the PPO petition were false or exaggerated.
It is strongly recommended that you seek the guidance of an experienced Family Court attorney, such as Todd Spodek of the Spodek Law Group, before submitting your petition. An attorney can ensure that your petition clearly states all relevant factors and increases the likelihood that the judge will grant your request. Neglecting to address past instances of abuse can also prevent you from later bringing these claims to the court’s attention.
Sometimes, after a PPO is filed in court, the petitioner may regret their decision and wish to dismiss the order. This may occur if they misunderstand a situation or overreact to it. However, judges and prosecutors who believe they know better than the parties involved may prevent the PPO from being dismissed. This can result in a Motion to Terminate PPO being denied, even when the parties know that the PPO is no longer necessary. To avoid such scenarios, it is always best to consult with an experienced PPO attorney before making any decisions that could result in an unwanted court ruling.
At the Spodek Law Group, attorney Todd Spodek and his team are dedicated to helping individuals navigate the complex process of personal protection orders. With extensive experience and a deep understanding of the law, they will work tirelessly to help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
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