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Legal Information: Virginia

Restraining Orders

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December 4, 2020

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)