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.
It can be a Class 1 misdemeanor when s/he violates the part of the order that prohibits the abuser from:
- going or remaining upon land, buildings, or premises;
- committing family abuse;
- committing a criminal offense; or
- contacting you or your family or household members.1
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
- 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
The abuser can be prosecuted in the county where the protective order was issued or in the county where the violation took place.3
It is a good idea to write down the name of the responding officer(s) and their badge number 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. The report could be valuable documentation if you try to modify or extend your order.
1 Va. Code § 16.1-253.2(A)
2 Va. Code § 16.1-253.2(B), (C)
3 Va. Code §§ 16.1-253.2(E); 18.2–60.4(F)