Also known as a restraining order or temporary protection order in some states, a personal protection order (PPO) is a rare hybrid in the law. It is a civil action in nature but has criminal penalties for violations. You can even be arrested for violating a PPO without a warrant. The parties involved are called Petitioner (person who files for the PPO) and Respondent (person whom the PPO is against).
Types of Personal Protection Orders
There are two types of personal protection orders: domestic relations PPO and non-domestic stalking PPO. The classification and criteria is based upon the relationships between the parties.
- Domestic Relations PPO—This type of PPO applies when Respondent is: 1) a current or former spouse of the Petitioner, 2) in or was in a dating relationship with the Petitioner, 3) a current or former resident of the Petitioner’s household, or 4) has a child in common with the Petitioner.
- Non-Domestic Stalking PPO—This type of PPO is when the Petitioner believes he or she is being stalked by the Respondent. There has to be at least two separate and non-continuous incidents of harassment which caused the Petitioner to feel threatened, terrorized, harassed, frightened, intimidated, or molested (bothered). Stalking PPOs often coincide with criminal charges against the Respondent for stalking.
How PPOs are Issued
Generally, the circuit court may only enter a PPO after notice has been given to the Respondent and a hearing is held to determine whether or not the PPO is needed. However, a PPO may be entered ex parte, meaning without notice to the Respondent. The circuit court judge will read the allegations contained in the petition and any exhibits that are attached to determine if it is necessary to grant the PPO without prior notice to the Respondent. The legal standard for an ex parte PPO to be granted is immediate and irreparable harm would likely occur from the delay of giving notice to Respondent and conducting a hearing, or if notifying the Respondent would put the Petitioner in danger.
When are PPOs Effective and Enforceable
A PPO is enforceable and effective when it is signed by the judge. It can be immediately enforced against Respondent whether or not he had notice of the PPO.
Contesting a PPO
If you have been served with a PPO, you have a very narrow window of time to contest the PPO or else it will be entered against you for at least six months (182 days). You have 14 days from the day you were served to file a motion to either terminate or modify the PPO. Generally, the hearing to contest the PPO will be held within 14 days of the petition. It will be held within five days if Respondent:
- Has a concealed pistol license (cpl) and is required to carry a concealed weapon as a part of his employment
- Is a state or federal law enforcement officer that carries a weapon as a part of his employment
- Is an employee of the Department of Corrections
What a PPO Prohibits Respondent from Doing
There are a number of actions that a PPO can prevent you from doing. The Petitioner can request any number of them but it is the judge that will have the final say. The judge can order the Respondent not to:
- Follow or appear within Petitioner’s eyesight
- Appear at Petitioner’s home or workplace
- Approach or confront Petitioner in a public place or private property
- Enter on or remain on any property that is owned, rented, leased, or occupied by Petitioner
- Send mail or electronic communications
- Contact Petitioner by phone
- Place or deliver an object to property owned, rented, leased, or occupied by Petitioner
- Threaten to kill or physical injure Petitioner
- Purchase or possess a firearm
Contested PPO Hearing
If you have been served with a PPO, you need to file for a modification or termination of the PPO as soon as possible or else it will be entered against you for at least six months. Do not make the mistake of ignoring a PPO and figure you can go about your life with no contact with Petitioner and everything will be fine. Nothing could be further from the truth. A PPO will appear in the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN) and certain employers may be informed of the PPO (e.g. law enforcement). You may not be able to purchase or possess firearms and your movement will be severely restricted. Simple tasks such as going to the grocery store or visiting friends or family in common become complicated. Also, if you do not contest a PPO, the Petitioner can always request the judge to renew the PPO which increases the length of time it is valid against you. This can affect your life and impact your future in many ways.
If thought the Respondent requests the contested hearing, the Petitioner has the burden of proof. That means it is up to the Petitioner to convince the judge by a “preponderance of the evidence” that the PPO is necessary and should remain. Do not attempt to represent yourself at this hearing. You need an attorney that is familiar with courtroom procedure and the rules of evidence and is trained to examine witnesses.
Penalties for Violating a PPO
If you violate the terms of your PPO, you could be sentenced to jail for up to 93 days and/or be fined up to $500. Keep in mind they only have to prove a violation by a “preponderance of the evidence.” That is the lowest standard of proof we have in our judicial system. It is the same standard used for civil cases. Think of it as more likely than not, a tipping of the scale, 50.1% sure.
Difference Between a PPO and a No-Contact Order
A PPO is a civil action between the parties. A no-contact order is put in place by a judge pending a criminal case. They often overlap, particularly in domestic violence, assault and battery, or stalking cases.
Michigan Personal Protection Order Defense Lawyer
If you have been served with a PPO or been charged with a PPO violation, contact Austin Legal Services, PLC at (517) 614-1983 to speak to a Michigan PPO attorney today!
Defending PPO violations throughout Michigan in the counties of Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Jackson, Livingston, Barry, Kent in the cities of Lansing, Charlotte, Howell, St. Johns, Jackson, Hastings, Grand Rapids.