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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.
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:
There are several types of orders of protection available in Brooklyn, depending on the relationship between the victim and abuser:
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.
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.
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.
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 basic process to obtain an order of protection in Brooklyn is:
Orders of protection can prohibit the abusive person from:
Orders may also grant additional relief like:
Judges can enforce orders of protection by:
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.
The first step is contacting the Brooklyn Family Justice Center (FJC), a walk-in support center for domestic violence victims. FJC staff provide:
Legal help is also available through the FJC to navigate the order of protection process.
Obtaining an order without legal advice is possible but can be complex. Having an advocate or lawyer greatly improves the success rate.
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:
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.
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.
Sample Order of Protection Forms – NY Courts
Video Overview of Order of Protection Process
NY Penal Code Definitions on Violating Orders of Protection
Domestic Violence & Batterers – Brooklyn Family Justice Center
The National Domestic Violence Hotline – 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
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