What Happens in a Temporary Protection Order? What are Stalking Laws?Written on March 30, 2015
When a Temporary Protection Order (TPO) is issued by a judge, it is intended to keep one person from contacting another. A TPO is typically issued in cases of stalking, harassment or bullying. It is used if someone feels threatened by another and has personal safety concerns.
If you know someone who has been served with a TPO, there are some important things that they should know. A TPO can cover a lot of common “freedoms” that someone may take for granted, and if the two people involved in the TPO frequent the same places, and know the same people, lines could easily be crossed. Violating the TPO order can result in criminal charges.
How does someone file a Temporary Protection Order? If someone feels threatened, harassed or bullied they can file the order with the courts, or through a lawyer. The basis for the TPO petition is often a result of alleged family violence or a pattern of unwanted behavior from the other person. 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 legal adult will need to file on their behalf.
During a temporary protection order you cannot have any contact with the other person. This can be difficult with all the ways that we have to message someone. Making phone calls, sending texts and posting messages about them on social media are considered means of making contact. All of those acts could be a problem for anyone under a TPO.
The TPO may specify staying a certain distance away from another person, but it will also include telephone calls and texting. The order also prevents a third party from passing a message between the individuals involved. The order may also award temporary custody of minor children from one parent to another.
If physical abuse was involved, and the parties were living together, a person may also be required to leave their home if a TPO is granted. A deputy from the county Sheriff’s Department would follow them to retrieve their belongings. In many cases, a TPO is granted for an initial period of 30 days. After that, the situation is revisited in court.
A temporary protection order is not a criminal charge. However, if the order is violated, 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, and jail time may have to be served.