How do I change or extend the final protective order?
Only a judge can modify a protective order. If you or the abuser wish to change the terms of the order, a motion to modify can be filed. If you wish to cancel the order, a motion to dismiss can be filed.1 However, there may be a chance that if you have an order dismissed (canceled), that may possibly be considered if you re-file for another order in the future.
If you want to extend the order, you can file a motion to extend. This must be filed before your protective order expires. Proceedings to extend a protective order are supposed to be given high priority by the court. The judge can extend your protective order for a period of up to two years to protect the health and safety of you or your current family or household member(s). You can file to extend your order more than once.2
For any of the above motions that are filed, the court will set a date for a hearing and the abuser will be served with a copy of the motion and a request to be present. You must attend this hearing and present evidence to convince the judge why the change, extension, or dissolution (cancellation) is necessary.
1 Va. Code § 19.2-152.10(G)
2 Va. Code § 19.2-152.10(B)
What happens if the abuser violates the order?
If the abuser violates the protective order, there are two general options. You can file for a violation petition in the court that issued the order and ask the judge to hold him/her in civil contempt. Another option is that you can call the police and the abuser can be arrested, fined and even jailed for violating the protective order. Even if you think it is a minor violation, it can be a crime and contempt of court if the abuser knowingly violates the order in any way. However, the law says that if a person is criminally prosecuted for violation of a protective order for an act of violence, force, or threat, s/he cannot also be found guilty of contempt for the same act.1
It can be a Class 1 misdemeanor if the abuser knowingly violates any provision of the the order.1
Additionally, it can be a Class 6 felony crime if the abuser:
- secretly enters your home while you are there;
- secretly enters your home while you are not there but remains until you arrive;
- commits an assault and battery against you, which results in bodily injury;
- stalks you;
- violates any provision of the protective order while knowingly armed with a firearm or other deadly weapon;2 or
- is convicted of a third or subsequent offense of violating the protective order (within 20 years of the first conviction) and any of the offenses are based on an act or threat of violence.1
It is a good idea to write down the name of the responding officers and their badge numbers in case you want to follow up on your case. You should also make sure the police or sheriff write a report on the incident even if the abuser is not arrested — this is required under Virginia law.3 The report could be valuable documentation if you try to modify or extend your order.
1 Va. Code § 18.2-60.4(A)
2 Va. Code § 18.2-60.4(B),(C)
3 See Va. Code § 19.2-81.3(D)