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Understanding Orders of Protection in Brooklyn DV Cases

Understanding Orders of Protection in Brooklyn DV Cases

Dealing with domestic violence and trying to navigate the legal system can feel overwhelming. Orders of protection, also called restraining orders, are a common legal tool used in Brooklyn domestic violence (DV) cases to help protect victims. This article provides an overview of how orders of protection work, the process to get one, and what protections they offer.

What is an Order of Protection?

An order of protection is a court order designed to stop violence, threats, harassment, and other abusive behavior. It legally requires the abusive person (the respondent) to refrain from further acts against the victim and in some cases, their children or other family members.Orders of protection can:

  • Order the respondent to stop threatening, abusing, harassing, or stalking the victim
  • Protect the victim’s home, school, workplace, or other areas from the respondent
  • Grant temporary custody and visitation rights regarding minor children
  • Require the respondent to participate in batterer’s education or counseling programs
  • Require the respondent to pay temporary child support or provide alternate housing for the victim

Types of Orders of Protection in Brooklyn

There are several types of orders of protection available in Brooklyn, depending on the relationship between the victim and abuser:

Family Court Order of Protection

If the victim and abuser are in an intimate relationship (married, divorced, have a child together, or live together), the victim would petition for an order of protection in Brooklyn Family Court. Family Court orders can last up to 2 years and be extended upon expiration.

Supreme Court Order of Protection

If the relationship does not fit the Family Court requirements, the victim can petition for a Supreme Court order of protection in Brooklyn Supreme Court. These orders can last up to 5 years.

Criminal Court Order of Protection

If a criminal case is pending against the abuser, the court may issue a temporary order of protection to protect the victim during the case. This order can last throughout the criminal proceedings.

Emergency Order of Protection

A victim of domestic abuse can request an emergency order of protection from a local criminal or family court. Also called a temporary restraining order (TRO), this provides immediate short-term protection while the victim pursues a longer-term order.

The Order of Protection Process in Brooklyn

The basic process to obtain an order of protection in Brooklyn is:

  1. File a Petition – The victim files an official petition requesting the protection order and detailing the facts of abuse. This can be done without a lawyer or with assistance from a DV advocate.
  2. Court Hearing – The judge reviews the petition and may request additional evidence or testimony. The abuser is notified of the hearing date.
  3. Court Decision – At the hearing, the judge will decide whether to grant or deny the order of protection based on the documented abuse. Both parties can attend and share testimony.
  4. Service of Order – If granted, the order must be officially served to the abuser by law enforcement. This puts the abuser on notice of the order’s restrictions and consequences if violated.
  5. Order Enforcement – The order is now in effect. If further abuse or violations occur, the victim should contact police immediately for enforcement action. Violating an order is a criminal offense.

What Does an Order of Protection Do?

Orders of protection can prohibit the abusive person from:

  • Assaulting, stalking, threatening, harassing, or committing other offenses against the victim and other protected parties
  • Going near the victim’s home, school, workplace or other locations
  • Making harassing communications by phone, mail, text or social media
  • Damaging the protected parties’ property or pets
  • Using drugs or alcohol if directed by the court

Orders may also grant additional relief like:

  • Temporary custody, visitation rights and child support
  • Mandated counseling or treatment programs
  • Compensation for costs related to the abuse
  • Ordering the police to accompany the victim to collect belongings
  • Suspending gun ownership and forcing surrender of firearms

How Are Orders of Protection Enforced?

Judges can enforce orders of protection by:

  • Fines and Imprisonment – Violations may result in civil or criminal contempt charges. The court can impose fines or jail time for deliberate violations.
  • Arrest and Criminal Charges – Breaking certain provisions like stay away orders, assault, stalking etc. can lead to arrest and separate criminal charges.
  • Extending the Order – Judges may extend the length of an existing order of protection if further abuse occurs.

The police are authorized and required to immediately enforce valid orders and arrest violators based on probable cause. Victims should always report violations to the police and keep a copy of their order available at all times.

Getting an Order of Protection in Brooklyn

The first step is contacting the Brooklyn Family Justice Center (FJC), a walk-in support center for domestic violence victims. FJC staff provide:

  • Safety planning for leaving abuse
  • Referral to shelters and community resources
  • Assistance documenting abuse (photos, medical records etc.)
  • Help filing for temporary emergency orders
  • Guidance obtaining long-term orders of protection

Legal help is also available through the FJC to navigate the order of protection process.

  • Volunteer lawyers assist victims free of charge.
  • Victims who qualify based on income can obtain court-appointed lawyers.

Obtaining an order without legal advice is possible but can be complex. Having an advocate or lawyer greatly improves the success rate.

Enforcing Your Order of Protection

While orders of protection provide important legal protection, the most dangerous time for a domestic violence victim is often when attempting to leave their abuser.It’s critical to have an emergency safety plan in place including:

  • Identify safe locations like a shelter, family or friend’s home
  • Have a packed bag ready with essentials if you must leave quickly
  • Memorize important phone numbers including police, hotlines and family
  • Create code words to signal family or friends if in danger
  • Inform neighbors about the situation and provide a copy of the order

If any violation of the order occurs, call 911 immediately for police response. Keep a copy of the order with you at all times as proof for the police. Report even minor violations to establish a record in case further legal action becomes necessary.

The Brooklyn Family Justice Center has advocates to help victims develop customized safety plans and provide ongoing counseling and support services.

The Importance of Orders of Protection

While orders of protection should not be considered a guaranteed shield against further violence, research shows they are effective at reducing abuse and protecting victims in most cases. Having the legal power of a court order can deter abusers from escalating their behavior. Seeking an order also connects victims to essential social services and law enforcement who can intercede if needed.

If you or anyone you know is suffering domestic abuse, contacting the Brooklyn Family Justice Center is an important first step. Counselors there can conduct risk assessments, develop action plans and help pursue legal protection through orders of protection if desired. Call 1-800-621-HOPE to speak with an advocate 24/7.We hope this overview gives you a better understanding of the protections orders of protection can provide within the legal system. Our attorneys have years of experience assisting domestic violence victims obtain and enforce orders of protection in Brooklyn courts. Please reach out if you would like legal representation or just need someone knowledgeable to talk to.

Resources

Sample Order of Protection Forms – NY Courts
https://www.nycourts.gov/forms/familycourt/orders_of_protection.shtml

Video Overview of Order of Protection Process
https://youtu.be/vfxp3UrKDwU

NY Penal Code Definitions on Violating Orders of Protection
https://codes.findlaw.com/ny/penal-law/pen-sect-215-51-b.html

Domestic Violence & Batterers – Brooklyn Family Justice Center
https://www.brooklynda.org/family-justice-center/domestic-violence-batterers/

The National Domestic Violence Hotline – 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
https://www.thehotline.org

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