Protective orders, sometimes called restraining orders in other states, may be placed on someone by a judge or court. There are normally very good reasons why protective orders are issued in Alaska. They may help to protect an individual or their family from domestic violence or any harm done by someone else, usually although not always, someone in their own family. Once a protective order has been issued, that person must not violate the order. To do so would be a criminal offense and the person could be arrested and charged.
Although the majority of protective orders are justified, not all are based on genuine danger. For one reason or another, a person in a relationship may seek to have a protective order issued even though there is no justifiable reason for doing so. Not all protective orders are sought against a current or ex-spouse or partner. They may be sought to protect someone from the attention or alleged danger of another individual who may or may not be related to the person seeking the order. For example, a protective order may be sought against someone who is alleged to be stalking them.
You have the right to get a protective order lifted, if you can convince a court that the evidence for issuing the order in the first place is insufficient or untruthful. It is advisable to get in contact with a criminal defense attorney to help you decide how to get a protective order lifted before filing a motion to lift the order with the court. You may also need the help of a criminal defense attorney if you have been accused of violating a protective order as you could be charged with a criminal offense by the police. Even if you think that such an order is unjustified and based on false accusations, it is unwise to do anything that could be perceived as violating the order without getting the order lifted first.
Reasons for issuing a protective order
It is important to understand why protective orders are issued and in what circumstances an accuser might seek such an order to be issued.
Most protective orders are issued to protect someone in an abusive relationship and who has experienced domestic violence or fears that they or their children could be in danger of being hurt. In a minority of cases, a protective order may be made against someone in the community who the petitioner (the person who is seeking the order) thinks is a danger to them.
In Alaska, there are three different categories of protective order.
An emergency order may be issued by a judge for a period of 72 hours if a police officer asks the judge to issue one. The officer could do this orally, by phone or in writing and would usually do so if it was thought that someone was in danger of being hurt. The order must be made with the consent of the alleged victim and normally the judge would have evidence that the person had been subjected to domestic violence.
A temporary or ex-parte order is an order obtained from a judge in a court. The petition (request) must be made in writing with a justification, usually an allegation that the person requesting the order has been hurt by the person for whom the order is intended to restrain. These temporary orders last for up to 20 days from the date of issue.
A final or long term order is normally only issued after a hearing in court. The petitioner would have to provide evidence that they were in danger from the person for whom the order was intended to restrain. Witnesses may be called to represent or substantiate any allegations. If the judge decided to issue a long term order it will either be for a year or until the court determines otherwise.
Getting a protective order lifted
Some protective orders are unjustified because they have been issued based purely on unsubstantiated allegations. The person who sought the order may be attempting to manipulate a relationship or seek to emotionally hurt a partner or ex-partner for any number of personal reasons of their own. Unjustified protective orders may prevent you from returning to your own home, obtaining your own property or seeing your own children. There is a danger if the allegations are untruthful, that without the order lifted, it could escalate to a point where it is alleged that you violated the order. This could be a very serious offense of which you may be totally innocent.
You will need help from an attorney to file a motion in court to lift the order. In Anchorage, contact the Law Office of Dattan Scott Dattan, they will fight to protect your rights.