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Order of Protection

What is an order of protection?

An order of protection is a document issued by the court that forbids an individual from engaging in certain behavior.  For example, an order of protection can forbid a person from having any contact with the victim.  This means that the person can’t go to the victim’s home, place of employment, or school, or contact the victim via email, phone, text message or any other electronic means.  An order of protection can also require an individual not to assault, threaten, harass, or stalk a victim.

How do I obtain an order of protection?

To obtain an order of protection you much have a case pending in court.  There are two types of places where you can obtain an order of protection: Criminal Court and Civil Court.

Family Court is a Civil Court.  You can go to Family Court and file a request (called a petition) for an order of protection if you and the individual who you want the order against are:

  • legally married;
  • divorced;
  • related  by blood;
  • have a child in common;
  • or have been in an intimate relationship

An intimate relationship does not necessarily mean a sexual relationship, but is more than just a casual acquaintance. This includes people who are or have been dating, or living together, including those who have been or are in a same-sex relationship.

Please click here for additional information on obtaining a family court order of protection.

In Criminal Court, an order of protection can be issued regardless of the relationship between you and the person you want protection from.  In order to obtain an order of protection in Criminal Court, the person must be arrested and there must be a Criminal Court case pending against him.  The District Attorney’s Office will request an Order of Protection from the court on your behalf. 

How long is an order of protection valid?

A Temporary Order of Protection usually lasts  from one court date to another court date.  A Final Order of Protection will be issued when there is a final disposition in the case.  A Final  Order of Protection can last from one year to several years, depending upon the seriousness of the case.  If the case is dismissed, the order of protection will end. 

How do I get a copy of my Criminal Court Order of Protection?

After the Court issues an Order of Protection in Criminal Court, the Witness Aid Service Unit  (WASU) of the District Attorney’s Office will mail a copy of the Order of Protection to you.  Please make sure that the District Attorney’s Office has your correct address.  You can also request a copy of your Criminal Court Order of Protection by contacting WASU at (212) 335-9040.  WASU is located at 100 Centre Street, room 231. 

What happens if the Order of Protection is violated?

It is a crime to violate an order of protection.  If the individual violates the Order of Protection, you should 911 and report it to the police.  You can also walk into the nearest precinct to report a violation.  After contacting the police, you should also contact the Assistant District Attorney assigned to your case.  If you don’t know who your assigned assistant is, contact WASU at (212) 335-9040 for that information.  Keep your Order of Protection with you at all times.  If you misplace your copy of your Order of Protection, you can get a copy from WASU. NYPD can also determine if a valid Order exists. 

I have order of protection, am I safe?

An order of protection does not guarantee a victim’s safety.  It is extremely important to develop a safety plan.  Please contact WASU at (212) 335-9040  to work with a social services worker to develop a safety plan.  If you are a victim of Domestic Violence you can also call the 24 hour/toll-free Domestic Violence hotline at 1 (800) 621-HOPE (4673) for other organizations that can help you develop a safety plan. 

Is my order of protection valid outside of New York City?

Your Order of Protection can be enforced even if you travel or move to another state.  Most Orders of Protection must be given “Full Faith and Credit” in any other state, which means that your Order may be good wherever you go.  Some states require that you register your order in the new state before it becomes effective.  If you should move to another state, call the Clerk of the Court to determine whether or not you are required to register your Order and what steps need to be taken by you in order for it to be properly registered.