Orders of Protection Due to Domestic Violence
If you feel unsafe or you feel your children are unsafe due to your partner's/spouses behaviors you are likely considering the route of getting an "order of protection", or more commonly known outside of the legal world as a "restraining order". We understand that if you are looking into this, you are more than likely in a distressed emotional state and want you to know there are laws in place that can help protect you and keep you safe.
According to the state of Missouri, the act of committing domestic violence against an individual is legitimate grounds for obtaining an order of protection or a restraining order.
The state of Missouri defines domestic violence as;
A family or household member:
Examples, (MO ST § 455.010(7):
- A spouse/ ex-spouse
- Someone you are dating or have dated previously
- Someone you live or have lived with previously
- Someone you have a biological child with (Even if you never cohabited with and were never married to this person.)
- Anyone related to you by blood or by legal marriage
Anyone who falls under those provided examples is considered by the state of Missouri as a family or household member. Therefore they are subject to the following Missouri laws/statutes/definitions in regards to orders of protection and domestic abuse.
"If they commit the act of stalking; or commits attempts to commit, or threatens to commit abuse, which is defined as any of the following acts-"
(MO ST §§ 455.010(5); 455.020(1)
1. Assault: purposely placing or attempting to place you in fear of physical harm;
Battery: purposely causing physical harm to you with or without a deadly weapon;
Coercion: using force or a threat of force to make you do something or to stop you from doing something;
Harassment: committing acts (more than once) that cause you or your child alarm or substantial emotional distress and serve no legitimate purpose.
The individual following you or your child in a public place.
The individual looking in windows or openings in your home or lingering on the exterior of your home, or on your property;
Sexual assault: causing or attempting to cause you to engage involuntarily in any sexual act by force, the threat of force, duress (coercion/pressure), or without your consent;
Or unlawful imprisonment: holding, confining, detaining, or abducting you against your will. (MO ST § 455.010(1)
2. Stalking is defined as when someone purposely acts in a way that reasonably causes you to alarm and that serves no legitimate purpose. THE ACTIONS MUST OCCUR TWO OR MORE TIMES TO BE DEFINED AS STALKING.
Examples of stalking behavior are repeatedly following you or making unwanted communication or contact with you. (MO ST § 455.010(14)
Are There Different Types of Orders of Protection in Missouri? If So, What Are They?
In the state of Missouri, there are two different types of orders of protection the state may grant in circumstances surrounding domestic violence issues.
The First Type of Protection Order
Ex Parte Order of Protection:
Ex parte is a legal term from the Latin language meaning, “from one side.”
A Missouri judge is capable of granting you the ex parte order of protection if you are able to provide solid evidence that there is a “good cause” to do so.
A “good cause” in Missouri law is when the judge being asked to grant the order of protection is under the impression, based on the evidence you have provided them with, that there is an immediate and present danger of abuse to you from the party you are seeking the order against. (MO ST § 455.035(1).
A judge is able to grant you the ex parte order of protection just from your sole petition, account, and testimony. An ex parte order of protection doesn't require a hearing to be held and can be granted without your abuser's knowledge of you seeking the order of protection. An ex parte order also does not require the presence of your abuser in court for a hearing.
An ex parte order of protection is always the first step to getting a full order of protection; which does require the abuser to be made aware of you seeking the order and being granted a hearing in court along with yourself. Ex parte orders under normal circumstances are legally valid up until you and your abuser have your court hearing in front of the judge, to receive a full order of protection (the second type of order of protection).
This hearing, under normal circumstances, will take place in 15 days. (MO ST § 455.040(1)
- Important: It is legally allowed that you receive a notification when the ex parte order of protection is officially served to your abuser. (MO ST § 455.038) Please ask the court clerk upon being granted an ex parte order on how you can receive this information if you wish to be informed.
In the event, you ask the court for an ex parte order of protection, and the judge decides to not grant you one, for whatever reason, it is likely you will get a “Notice of Hearing” in lieu of the ex parte order of protection.
A "Notice of Hearing" is not a legal order to protect you or your family.
What it is, is an official document stating you have a scheduled hearing before the court and the judge, who will then make their final decision on if the state will or will not grant you a full order of protection against the party you feel unsafe around. Just like the ex parte order of protection, in order to be granted the full order of protection from the state against your abuser, you will need to be prepared to provide significant proof of your allegations of domestic violence, committed by the opposing party to the court.
The Second Type of Protection Order:
- Full Orders of Protection
As mentioned above briefly, a full order of protection may only be granted after a court hearing has occurred where you and your abuser are given the opportunity to both be heard.
Hence, why ex parte is used for the above, it only requires one side to be heard. A full order requires both sides to be allowed to state their case in an official court setting.
This is your opportunity to prove to the judge you and/or your family are in fact victims of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault at the hands of the opposing party. You need to provide as much evidence as possible of your allegations to make your case to the judge to ensure you are granted legal protection against your abuser. If you are able to make your case to the judge that your abuser has indeed committed the acts and is causing you and/or your family to live in danger, the judge is able to grant a full order of protection. These orders generally last between 180 days and one year. (MO ST § 455.040) Full orders are able to be extended for a longer period of time if the court sees fit.
If you would like legal assistance that is knowledgeable in this facet of the law and will fight for you and your family to be protected from abuse, call The Joshua Wilson Law Firm and we can consult and advise you on all the steps and options you have when dealing with domestic abuse and filing orders of protection.
Do not hesitate to contact The Higher Level Legal Law Firm today. We will make it our priority to protect you and your family with our legal experience and passion.