If you have endured physical abuse from someone you know or stalking from a total stranger who found you online, you may not feel safe going about your daily life anymore. Stalking and domestic violence can affect every aspect of your life, from your relationships to your employment.
No one should feel unsafe just performing daily tasks because someone else persistently threatens them. If you still fear a former partner or a stranger who has made no secret of the fact that they know your every move, you may want to go to the Missouri courts to ask for an order of protection.
Before you do that, there are three things you typically need to know about orders of protection.
You will need documentation or evidence
The courts won’t just accept verbal statements from an alleged victim when granting an order of protection. You will need statements from other witnesses, medical records, police reports, journals showing a pattern of behavior and other corroborating evidence, like threatening social media posts. You will need something convincing enough to make a judge believe that you fear for your safety.
There are two main kinds of orders of protection
Many people who feel unsafe require immediate support, but court orders that affect someone’s daily life typically require the presence of the person involved. In an emergency, you can seek an ex parte order immediately without the other party present, but it will only be a temporary order.
You will have to go back to court to secure a full order of protection. The other party will have the right to defend themselves at the hearing for the full order of protection. Provided that your evidence is more convincing than their explanations, the courts may limit their right to contact you or to be present in the same area as you.
Orders only help to enforce them
An order of protection isn’t worth the cost of the paper you print it on if you don’t enforce the order after receiving it. Many people make the mistake of initiating contact with the other party when there is an order of protection in place. Other times, they will ignore someone’s violations and talk to them on the phone or even spend time with them in person. Such actions may drastically limit your rights later if you try to hold them accountable for violating the order.
Understanding the basic rules that govern orders of protection in Missouri can help you use this powerful tool for your own safety.