The main difference between a Civil Order of Protection and a Criminal Order of Protection has to do with how the person who is seeking the Order of Protection goes about getting the Order of Protection entered, or issued. An Order of Protection is a court order which bars someone from having at least some contact with another person. The typical Order of Protection forbids a person from being anywhere near another person or forbids them from being at a certain location or attempting to make any contact whatsoever with the other person. It’s really the only way that the legal system can offer protection from bodily harm from another person. It’s a piece of paper that has no power in and of itself to prevent anything from happening. The only thing that the Order of Protection does is allow the police to arrest someone if they are found to be in Violation of the Order of Protection.
Let’s first talk about a Civil Order of Protection. The process for obtaining a Civil Order of Protection is usually started by the person who is seeking to be protected themselves. They file a Petition with the court requesting that a Civil Order of Protection be entered. The initial order can be entered without the person against whom the Order of Protection is sought to be entered without even having been served with the petition. When the Court is presented with the Petition, the court will review it to see if there’s a basis for an order being entered. The Court may question the person seeking the Order of Protection, known as the Petitioner, and if the Court is satisfied that there’s good cause for the entry of an Order of Protection, the Court will enter an Emergency Order of Protection that will only be good for 14 days. The Court will set a Court date and the Petitioner will have to serve the Respondent, the person who the Petitioner is seeking to be protected from, with a copy of the Emergency Order of Protection. At the next Court date a hearing will be held for the judge to determine whether a permanent Order of Protection should be entered.
Now let’s talk about a Criminal Order of Protection. A Criminal Order of Protection arises out of a criminal case. The party asking for the entry of an Order of Protection is usually the prosecutor in the criminal case. Most Criminal Orders of Protection arise out of a Domestic Battery case. But I have seen them in Stalking and Harassment cases. What typically happens is that at the first court date, usually the Bond Hearing, the prosecutor will ask the judge to enter a Temporary Order of Protection forbidding the defendant from being anywhere near the victim and from having any contact with the victim.