What are the Georgia Laws for a TPO?Written on April 15, 2014
A Temporary Protection Order (TPO) is an order issued by a judge that is intended to keep one person from contacting another. That’s a very basic definition for what is often a complex situation. If you have been served with a TPO, there are some important things to keep in mind to avoid violating the order which can result in criminal charges.
Let’s start with the basics: How and why is a TPO issued? The process begins when an individual files a petition in court requesting the order be granted. The basis for the TPO petition is often a result of alleged family violence or a pattern of stalking type behavior. In most cases, the person seeking the TPO will speak to the judge. Once the facts have been presented to the court, the judge will decide whether or not to issue the TPO. If granted, the TPO will be served by the Sheriff’s Department. If an individual is under 18 years of age, a person 18 or older will need to file on their behalf.
If you are served with a TPO, there are some facts to consider: No contact means no contact. Take a moment to think of the ways one person can contact another with the technology available today. Phone calls, texts and social media are all generally considered means of making contact. The TPO umbrella covers all of the above. A TPO may specify staying a certain distance away from another person, but it will also include telephone calls and electronic messages. The order also prevents a third party from passing a message between the individuals involved.
A TPO may also award temporary custody of minor children from one parent to another. The order could also direct one party to make support payments. Depending on the circumstances, some orders may allow limited contact between parties.
A person may also be required to leave their home if a TPO is issued. A deputy from the county Sheriff’s Department can accompany the person to their residence in order to retrieve their belongings. In most cases, a TPO is granted for an initial period of 30 days. After that, the situation is revisited in court so the judge can decide if the terms of the TPO will be extended.
Remember that a TPO is not a criminal charge, or that a person has done something wrong. It only means that somebody has gone before a judge and made an accusation, regarding safety. If a TPO is violated, however, civil or criminal charges will soon follow.
In Georgia, if an individual is found to have violated a TPO, they could be held in contempt of court or even charged with Aggravated Stalking. That is a felony in Georgia punishable by one to ten years in prison. The manner in which the TPO is violated will directly correlate to whether civil or criminal charges are brought.
If you have been served with a TPO, be sure to protect your rights and know exactly what you can and can’t do. Violating a TPO will only make a difficult situation much worse. The attorneys at The Silverbach Group, LLC will help protect your rights.
If you are considering filing a TPO against another and are unsure how to begin the process, the Silverbach Attorneys at Law can help. You can reach us at 770-635-0334.