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Legal Information: Virginia

Restraining Orders

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Updated: 
December 4, 2020

What types of protective orders for an act of violence, force, or threat are there? How long do they last?

Emergency protective order
An emergency protective order can be requested by you or by a police officer if you are/were the victim of an act of violence, force, or threat.  This is usually done orally in front of a judge or magistrate without filing a written petition.  It is an ex parte order, which means that the abuser is not present in court or notified beforehand.  A judge or magistrate can give you an emergency protective order if:

  • there is probable danger of another act of violence, force, or threat against you; or
  • there is a petition or a warrant for the arrest of the abuser for any crime resulting from the act of violence, force, or threat against you.1

An emergency protective order will only last for 3 days after the judge grants it.  If the third day is a day that the court is not in session, it will be extended until the end of the next day that the court is in session.2

Preliminary protective order
A preliminary protective order can be granted when you file a petition in court.  To get a preliminary protective order, you must allege in your petition that:

  • You are or have recently been the victim of an act of violence, force, or threat; or
  • There is a petition or warrant for the arrest of the abuser for any crime resulting from the act of violence, force, or threat against you.3

A judge can give you the order in an ex parte proceeding, meaning that the abuser is not notified ahead of time and is not present when the judge grants you the order.  To get this order, the judge must believe that there is enough evidence to prove that there is an immediate and present danger of any act of violence, force, or threat, or that there is evidence that it is likely that an act of violence, force, or threat has recently occurred.3

This order will last until there is a full court hearing, which generally is within 15 days.  However, if you are unable to have the abuser served with the petition, the preliminary order can be extended up to six months while you attempt to serve him/her.4

Final protective order
This protective order can be given:

  • if there is a petition, warrant, or conviction of any crime resulting from the act of violence, force, or threat; or
  • after a hearing is held where you prove that you have been (within a reasonable period of time) the victim of an act of violence, force, or threat.5

This (final) protective order will last up to 2 years (but it can be extended for two-year periods).  If there is no expiration date given on the order, it will end 2 years from the date it was issued.  However, during those 2 years, either party can file a motion in court asking that it be modified (changed) or dissolved (canceled).6

1 Va. Code § 19.2-152.8(B)
2 Va. Code § 19.2-152.8(C)
3 Va. Code § 19.2-152.9(A)
4 Va. Code § 19.2-152.9(B)
5 Va. Code §§ 19.2-152.10(A), 19.2-152.9(D)
6 Va. Code § 19.2-152.10(B),(G)