Jonesboro Attorneys Diligently Working with Survivors of Abuse
If you or someone you know has been exposed to domestic abuse, it can feel like you are on an island. You are not alone, and you don’t have to take on this process by yourself. There are options in place to protect you. There are professionals who not only have years of experience helping survivors through this process but who also respect how delicate these situations are for you.
Contact OMG Law Firm today at (870) 330-7324 to learn more about what resources are available to you and how we can help. Any information you share will remain confidential and will allow us to put together a plan that will best protect you moving forward.
What Constitutes Domestic Violence in Arkansas?
In Arkansas, domestic abuse is recognized as an act that a family or household member commits, such as assault, bodily injury, or physical harm. A family or household member can be a spouse or former spouse, a person with whom you share a child, a parent or child, anyone related by blood, or a person with whom you have or had a romantic relationship, whether they live with you or not.
It can also be the fear that you are in danger of assault, bodily harm, or physical happening to you. Criminal sexual conduct is also included in this definition, whether committed against an adult or a minor. This includes same-sex partners.
What is an Order of Protection?
An Order of Protection is a civil order designed to protect the survivor from further domestic violence such as stalking, harassing, threatening, or physical acts of violence. It is signed by a judge and can only be dismissed by the judge who issued the Order of Protection. Anyone can file for an Order of Protection, including a minor under the age of majority. However, they will need to have an adult file on their behalf.
What Types of Orders of Protection Are There?
There is a Temporary and a Final Order of Protection that can be filed to protect you. A temporary order of protection can be put in place in the event that there is an immediate perceived threat of danger. A judge may even issue you this on the day you file, referred to as an “Ex Parte,” meaning that the order is in place without prior notice to the abuser and without the need for them to be present. Another example of when this is applicable is if the abuser is scheduled to be released from incarceration in the next 30 days, and you want a way of protecting yourself without the abuser being present. Temporary orders of protection typically are in place for 30 days, which is generally enough time to have a court date scheduled and put a final order of protection set in place.
Final orders of protection are issued at a court hearing and can last from 90 days up to ten years, with the option to extend them as necessary. At this time, both your abuser and you are present and have the opportunity to present your evidence. It can be incredibly beneficial to have an experienced attorney present at this time, especially if your abuser has one. They can assist you in presenting your evidence effectively, helping to establish why you want an order of protection in place. If the abuser chooses not to attend the hearing (they must be notified in advance and served), there may be a default judgment made in your favor, or the judge may choose to set another court date and extend your temporary order of protection until the next hearing happens.
What Types of Things Am I Protected Against With an Order of Protection?
A judge may order several things to protect you moving forward. Some of the more common things are for the abuser to stay out of your home or the home you shared, for them to stay away from your place of employment or a school you attend as well as your church, grocery store or your gym. They may rule against the abuser contacting you themselves or through another person. They may issue temporary financial support for you if you are married or temporary custody or visitation rights to a child you may have with the abuser. They may also rule that any cell phone numbers or accounts be transferred to your name as well as any other items the judge decides will help you and other household members to remain safe.
What Happens After the Hearing?
There are a few extra steps that you can work with your attorney to take after the hearing takes place. Some of them are to make several copies of the protective order to give to anyone who may be named in the order, as well as keep a copy for yourself and have it on you at all times. You may even consider giving a copy to any security guards that work either at your place of employment or where you live, along with a picture of the abuser to notify them to remain alert on your behalf. Calling a week or so after your hearing to confirm that the local police have the correct paperwork on file can be beneficial as well, in the event that you need to call them if a violation occurs.
If the abuser violates the order of protection, you can call the police and reference your order of protection to have them assist in your safety. Violations of protective orders can result in a Class A Misdemeanor, which carries fines of up to $1,000 or a year in jail. If there is more than one violation in a five-year timeframe, the penalties can increase dramatically.
We understand that this can be a scary time for you. You are not alone, and we are here to help you. With many years of experience in helping survivors protect themselves, we are confident that we can help you, too. Contact our Jonesboro offices today at (870) 330-7324 to speak with one of our family law lawyers in confidence, get answers to your specific questions, and get the process started.