Temporary Protective Orders (TPO’s)
When a person in Georgia thinks they could be in danger due to domestic crimes, including stalking, they may file for a temporary protective order, or TPO. That order prevents the person accused from contacting the alleged victim. This includes direct contact in-person, over the phone or by digital means, and indirectly, such as delivering a message through a mutual friend. Though these orders are, by nature, temporary (lasting 6 to 12 months), they can be made more permanent — up to three years.
There are many restrictions TPOs may enforce up the person against whom it was placed. In addition to no contact, these can include avoiding a person’s workplace or school, their home and even a certain distance — i.e., staying at least 500 feet away. If you have a TPO in Atlanta placed against you and violate it, or you want to fight it, you need the assistance of experienced criminal defense attorneys. The lawyers at Hawkins Spizman Kilgo have many years of experience representing clients in situations like these. Call us today at 770-685-6400 for a free consultation.
The Ins and Outs of Temporary Protective Orders in Georgia
In Georgia, there are only two situations in which a person can file for a temporary protective order: domestic violence and stalking (Georgia Code Sections 19-3-3 and 16-5-94). In the case of stalking, the TPO may do any or all of these four things:
- Stop the alleged perpetrator from stalking the alleged victim
- Order either or each party to stop harassing the other
- Award attorney fees and other costs to the either party
- Order either or each party to receive psychological or psychiatric treatment
In either case, once the petition for the TPO is filed, the person who filed it goes before a judge, who determines the validity of the petition. This is called an ex parte order. If it is deemed the person accused — the respondent — will be served with the order. If they live in the same home as the petitioner, they will be granted some time to gather their belongings before being removed. The respondent must stay out of the home, and follow all other orders given in the TPO, until the formal hearing.
At the formal hearing, which is held within 30 days of the ex parte order, the petitioner bears the burden of proof that the respondent committed a domestic crime. And that it will continue unless a permanent protective order is enforced. There is no jury; a judge decides the case alone. He or she should base their decision on evidence presented. If there is not sufficient evidence, the case will likely be thrown out.
Violating a TPO, either before the formal hearing or after it is made permanent, carries consequences. The violation alone is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to 1 year in jail, as stated in Georgia Code Section 16-5-95. However, say you have a TPO against you for stalking. If you violate said order by stalking the petitioner again, you now have that charge to deal with on top of violating the TPO.
Don’t Face a TPO in Atlanta Alone
If you have been served with a temporary protective order in Atlanta, or have violated a TPO brought against you, you have legal options. Though there is no jury in formal TPO hearings, you do have the right to an attorney. The criminal defense attorneys at Hawkins Spizman Kilgo can effectively represent you in court, just like we have for many other clients over the years. Every situation is different. Call us today at 770-685-6400 for a free initial consultation, during which we will craft a unique defense specifically for your case. Though formal hearings must legally happen within 30 days of the ex parte order, they may happen as soon as 10 days after. So don’t wait; time is of the essence. Call now.