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What is a protective order and what should you do if you are served with one?

In Louisiana there are several types of protective orders. They fall into two main categories: criminal and civil.

A criminal protective order is issued in conjunction with a criminal charge and most often as a condition of the defendant’s bond obligation. A civil protective order can be issued entirely independently of a criminal investigation and for grounds that may not rise to the level of criminal conduct.

In either case, protective orders are issued because there is a threat of harm or harassment from the defendant in the action to the petitioner in the action. Protective orders are not limited to individuals who are married or in intimate relationships and can be issued in situations where one individual is stalking or simply harassing another individual. 

The purpose of a protective order is to prohibit contact between the petitioner and the defendant and to stop the behavior, whether it be physical violence or harassment that is the subject of the protective order.

Protective orders are usually filed by filling out a form available at the Clerk of Court’s office. If you are served with one, you should first note specifically what provisions the Court has ordered you to comply with. The first document you will be served with is a Temporary Restraining Order (or TRO) which will be in place until the hearing date listed in the court’s order. It may prohibit you to go to certain locations or make contact with certain people. In proceedings involving people in relationships, it may permit use of certain property (homes or vehicles, for example) to one of the parties. 

You should contact an attorney as soon as possible upon receiving the TRO because it is likely you will have a hearing date scheduled within two weeks. The purpose of the hearing is to determine whether or not the court will issue a Permanent Restraining Order. At this hearing, you will be permitted to present witnesses and to testify on your own behalf.

A protective order not only has consequences with regard to your contact with the individual filing it. If a protective order is granted, you can lose your concealed carry permit, you will be ordered to dispose of or to surrender to law enforcement all of your firearms, and you may be required to report the existence of the protective order to employers or licensing agencies, depending on the terms of your employment.

If you or someone you know has recently been served with a TRO, call us at (318) 459-9111 to schedule a consult.