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Virginia Protective Orders Attorneys

Key Takeaways

  • Virginia has three types of protective orders: emergency protective orders, preliminary protective orders, and permanent protective orders.
  • Having a protective order issued against you can significantly disrupt your life.
  • Protective orders can be dismissed or appealed in court.
  • Permanent protective orders require a protective order hearing.
person holding a notebook that has 'protective order' printed on the front

Protective orders are usually issued when someone feels unsafe because of another person’s words or actions, often in domestic violence situations. The standard of proof for protective orders is low, which means they are easy to get. Unfortunately, protective orders can also be a major impediment to your life. You can lose your right to own guns, struggle to find employment or pass background checks, risk losing access to your children, and more.

At Randall & Bruch, PC, our Virginia protective order attorneys understand the laws surrounding these issues and are ready to help. We work to help you by restricting the terms of the protective order or getting the order dismissed so your life is not completely derailed. Our family lawyers regularly assist clients in the Southampton, Emporia, Brunswick, Virginia Beach, and Suffolk areas, so do not hesitate to call us today for a free consultation.

Types of Protective Orders in Virginia

Virginia courts can issue three types of protective orders: Emergency, preliminary, and final protective orders.

  • Emergency protective orders are short-term orders issued by a magistrate or judge.
  • Preliminary protective orders protect against domestic violence and can include no-contact orders. They last for 15 days or until a full hearing on a permanent protective order.
  • Permanent protective orders are issued after a court hearing and can last for up to two years. They can be extended if necessary.

How a Protective Order Disrupts Your Life in Virginia

A protective order in Virginia issued against you can disrupt your life in many ways, including:

  • If you live with the person requesting the protective order, you might be required to move out of your residence.
  • You may be unable to contact the petitioner directly or indirectly, affecting communication and personal relationships.
  • Access to your children may be limited, especially if the order includes your children as protected parties.
  • A protective order can negatively impact you in divorce and custody proceedings.
  • A protective order in Virginia could negatively impact your current employment or cause issues with obtaining future employment, especially if a position requires a background check.
  • A court can order you to surrender firearms, which can affect your personal protection and employment if your job requires you to carry them.
  • A protective order can harm your reputation, which could lead to social stigma and strained relationships with your friends, family, and the community.
  • Violating a protective order can lead to your arrest, criminal offenses, and jail time.
  • You may have financial burdens, such as legal fees and the cost of finding another place to live.

person with box in hand holding various desk-related items to represent losing your job over a protective order

What is a Family Abuse Protective Order?

As mentioned, Virginia courts can issue three types of protective orders: emergency, preliminary, and regular. While protective orders can be issued to protect any victim from threats or acts of violence, they are often issued in family law cases where one parent verbally or physically abuses the other parent or the children. Virginia Code §16.1-228 defines what a family abuse protective order can protect against. Victims could include:

  • Spouses
  • Former spouses
  • Parents and stepparents
  • Children and stepchildren
  • Siblings and half-siblings
  • Grandparents
  • In-laws

How Long Does a Family Abuse Protective Order Last in Virginia?

In cases involving family abuse, the court may issue a protective order to protect the health and safety of the petitioner, the petitioner’s family, or their household members. The court can issue protective orders for a specific period of time, but not more than two years in total. Before the expiration of a protective order in Virginia, the petitioner may file a motion requesting an extension.

Emergency Protective Orders Overview

Because emergency issues can happen at any time, a victim of family abuse can obtain an emergency protective order 24 hours per day on any day of the week. Any court, including a circuit court, general district court, juvenile and domestic relations district court, and any magistrate, can issue a protective order.

How Long Does An Emergency Protective Order Last?

An emergency protective order can be based on statements you make to law enforcement or a magistrate. However, they expire at 11:59 p.m. on the third day following the day it was issued. If the court is not in session on the third day, the protective order lasts until the following day. To continue a protective order in Virginia, the victim must file a petition in the juvenile and domestic relations court.

Preliminary Protective Orders Overview

A preliminary protective order in Virginia protects victims from their alleged abusers while waiting for a court date. The hearing must be held within 15 days of the preliminary protective order. A court is allowed to issue a preliminary protective order without notice to the defendant if:

  • The victim states under oath that they face “immediate and present danger.”
  • The victim has “evidence sufficient to establish probable cause that family abuse has recently occurred.”

The court can issue a full protective order if the allegations are proven through evidence at the hearing.

What Does a Preliminary Protective Order Prevent?

A preliminary protective order has the full power of a final protective order, just a shorter duration. A preliminary protective order can prevent a range of actions based on the terms of the specific order. Preliminary protective orders can prevent:

  • Abuse against a child, family, or household member
  • Visitation as dictated by the court
  • Acts that may tend to endanger the child’s life, health, or normal development
  • Contact as the court deems appropriate if the petitioner can prove “by a preponderance of the evidence” that the respondent will most likely engage in actions barred by the protective order

Preliminary protective orders can be issued ex parte — without the defendant’s knowledge or permission or when the petitioner or court motions it.

What Violates a Protective Order in Virginia?

Young Woman Texting For Help On Mobile Phone Whilst Being Stalked On City Street

Violations of a protective order in Virginia can include:

  • Contacting the petitioner
  • Coming too close to the petitioner physically
  • Committing any acts of violence, threats, or harassment toward the petitioner
  • Failing to surrender firearms

Violations can result in criminal charges, including fines and imprisonment. Do not call the alleged victim if you have been served a protective order. Too often, the respondent calls the victim immediately, which makes their attorney’s job harder.

How to Get an Order of Protection Dismissed in Virginia

If a protective order in Virginia is entered without good cause, you must follow the legal process to get the order dismissed. You must:

  1. File a written motion with the court requesting a hearing to dissolve or modify the order.
  2. Set a hearing date for the motion.
  3. Gather evidence, including witness testimony, documentation, and other information that shows the protective order was entered without good cause or for other reasons you no longer require the order to be in place.
  4. Attend the hearing. Both parties must attend and can argue whether the order should be dismissed.

The court will consider the evidence and decide whether to dismiss the order. Without a lawyer, it can be extremely difficult to contest a protective order. The standard of evidence is very low, meaning there is a high chance of getting stuck with a two-year order.

Always follow up and obtain a copy of the new court order to show it to relevant parties, such as law enforcement or employers.

Always seek legal counsel to help you get a protective order dismissed, as the process can be complex.

Why Partner With Randall & Bruch, PC

Randall & Bruch, PC is ready to help you with complex legal issues, including defending against protective orders, filing appeals on your behalf, and representing you in a contentious divorce.

Our attorneys have experience with domestic violence issues and protective orders, including those that may result in a Virginia criminal case. Our goal is to help you, whether that means rebutting false accusations in court or seeking the least restrictive protective order if the order is inevitable. We take a proactive approach to these cases, helping clients get sober and get help so they can show the court a willingness to change, which can make all the difference when the judge is deciding your fate.

Contact a Virginia protective order lawyer at Randall & Bruch, PC for help defending against protective orders and other contentious family law issues.


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Protect Yourself & Your Family. Get Immediate Help.

At Randall & Bruch, PC, our Virginia protective order lawyers thoroughly understand the laws regarding these issues, and we are ready to get to work helping you today. We regularly assist clients in the Southampton, Emporia, Brunswick, and Suffolk areas. You can contact us for a consultation by filling out our convenient online contact form or calling 757-742-6115.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Difference Between a Protective Order and a Restraining Order?

Virginia has protective orders, but “protective order” and “restraining order” are often used interchangeably. Virginia grants protective orders in both non-domestic and domestic situations to protect the health and safety of alleged abuse victims.

Does a Protective Order Show Up on a Background Check in Virginia?

Yes, a Virginia protective order can appear on a background check. The court enters the protective order into the Virginia Criminal Information Network and National Crimes Information Center databases. Law enforcement officers, employers, and others who conduct background checks can access this information.

Can You Appeal a Protective Order in Virginia?

Virginia law allows you to appeal a protective order if you believe the order was issued in error or the court erred in procedural issues during the hearing. The appeals process is complicated, so you may need an attorney to help file the appeal.

You only have 10 days to appeal to the circuit court after a protective order is issued in Virginia. We are ready to help you, so contact us as soon as possible to exercise your right to appeal.

jack t randall

Written By Jack T. Randall


As lifelong resident of Western Tidewater, Jack Randall is a local attorney who wants the best results for his clients. He is an experienced and aggressive attorney with focus on family law, criminal and traffic law, as well as personal injury law cases.