What types of protective orders are available? How long do they last?
There are two types of protective orders - the temporary ex parte order and the final order.
Temporary ex parte order
You can file a complaint and affidavit (sworn statement) for a temporary protective order during regular court hours. If the judge believes that the abuser/defendant stalked or sexually assaulted you, the judge can give you a temporary ex parte protective order without prior notice to the abuser/defendant. A temporary protective order can state that the abuser has to stay away from you and/or your children and can include any other terms to protect the safety of you and/or your children.1
Final protective order against stalking or sexual assault
Every order will give a date (within the next 14 days), a time, and the place that the defendant can appear to petition the court to modify (change) or to dismiss the order. At this court hearing, you will have to prove that the defendant stalked or sexually assaulted you to get the protective order continued.2 If the defendant was convicted criminally of sexual assault, the judge can issue a protection order without considering whether or not the defendant poses a risk of future harm. However, if s/he was not convicted criminally of sexual assault, the judge must believe that s/he sexually assaulted you and that there is a danger of further harm to you. The judge can consider the defendant’s past behavior as relevant evidence of future harm but, in general, the judge cannot consider evidence about your reputation or your past sexual conduct (although there are exceptions).3
If necessary, the judge can add additional protections to the final order. At this hearing, the abuser/defendant has the right to offer evidence to prove that s/he did not stalk or sexually assault you. Both you and the abuser can offer witnesses, testimony, and other evidence to prove your case. You may want to be represented by a lawyer at this hearing, especially if the abuser has one. Go to our VT Finding a Lawyer page for free and paid legal referrals.
Final protective orders against stalking or sexual assault will be for a fixed period of time, which will be stated in the order. The order can be extended, however. For more information, see Can the order be changed or extended?
1 VT ST T. 12 § 5134(a)
2 VT ST T. 12 § 5134(b)
3 VT ST T. 12 § 5133(d)(1),(c)