Protective Orders are legal documents issued by a judge or magistrate to protect the health and safety of a person who is alleged to be a victim of any act involving violence, force or threat that results in bodily injury, or that places that person in fear of death, sexual assault or bodily injury.
Protective Orders do not replace calling 911 if you feel you are in danger. Protective orders are also not intended to be used to have a tenant evicted from a property.
There are three kinds of protective orders:
Emergency Protective Order (EPO) – Usually issued by a magistrate when the court is closed, these expire at the end of the third day following issuance or the next day court is in session, whichever is later (72 hours).
Preliminary Protective Order (PPO) – Temporary protection that lasts up to 15 days until a full court hearing. A petition must be filed with the court to obtain a PPO. When a preliminary protective order is granted, it is immediately sent to the sheriff for service. The order is not valid until the respondent is personally served.
Protective Order (PO) – A full protective order can be issued by a judge for up to 2 years where both parties have notice and the opportunity to be heard.
Walk-in petitions for preliminary protective orders are accepted Monday – Friday between 8:00AM – 3:00PM in the Civil Division, 4110 Chain Bridge Road, Fairfax, VA, room 211. In order to petition the general district court for a preliminary protective order, the following conditions must be met:
- The petitioner is at least 18 years of age.
- The respondent is at least 18 years of age.
- The petitioner or respondent must be a resident of Fairfax County OR the act of violence must have occurred in Fairfax County.
- The respondent must not be a family member.
- The petitioner and respondent, if they had a prior relationship, must not have lived together in the last 12 months.
- The petitioner should be able to document an act of violence or a threat such that the petitioner feels he/she is in danger of being harmed, killed, or sexually assaulted.
- The petitioner must have a complete home or work address for the respondent.
There are several forms that must be completed to obtain a preliminary protective order. These forms are available at the civil clerk’s office, and can be completed at the court or taken home to complete. You must file your forms in person in the Civil Division office. Court personnel will be happy to assist you, but are not able to give any legal advice. There are no filing fees associated with protective orders.
If the preliminary protective order is granted, a hearing date is set within 15 days.
If the preliminary protective order is denied, the petitioner can:
- File a motion to be heard in front of a judge as to why the petition should be granted;
- File an appeal to Circuit Court; or
- Wait and petition again for a preliminary protective order if the threat escalates.
For more information regarding protective orders, please visit the state website at www.vacourts.gov.