Personal Protection Orders – PPO’s
What is a Personal Protection Order?
A personal protection order, or PPO, is an order issued by the Circuit Court. It can protect you from physical assaults such as battering, threats to you and your children, harassment, or stalking by another person. The PPO may also stop someone from coming into your home or bothering you at work. It can stop them from buying a firearm or finding your address through school records. It can also stop them from taking your minor children unless required by the court.
Who can get a PPO?
Anyone who has been physically, emotionally or sexually abused or threatened by someone they have been married to, lived with, have a child with, or dated. Some examples may include: a current or former spouse, family member, partner, other parent of your child, current or former roommate, or current or former person you have dated.
Anyone who has been stalked by a stranger or by someone they know. Stalking is repeated harassment that makes you feel scared or upset. They often bother people by giving them attention they do not want. This can be unwanted phone calls or gifts, or following people by going to where they work or live. It can also be threats to you or your family. Stalking can be fatal. The perception of reality of most stalkers is distorted. And if his attention is not reciprocated, he will resort to brutal and lethal means to get what he wants.
What should you bring?
A detailed letter informing the court what has been going on. Make sure to tell them everything, even the ones you think are insignificant. Include dates and details the best you can. Police reports, medical records, photographs, or witnesses if you can get them. This is very important as it can be used as evidence in court hearings. Any information about the abuser – current address, date of birth or age, hair colour, eye colour, height, weight, address, Social Security number, or driver’s license number. Any court papers you have if you can get them. For example, custody and/or parenting time orders, lease agreement, divorce papers, or criminal case records.
What should you expect when you get there?
- There is no cost to file a PPO. You do not have to pay for a fee.
- It may take up to a half day to have a judge review your request. Please be at the Courthouse no later than 2:00 p.m.
- The Juvenile Intake Office has the PPO forms. They will direct you to the PPO Assistance Office where staff can help you fill out the forms.
- If there is any information you would like to be kept private, such as your address, do not include it when filling out your forms. Ask the Court Clerk for a confidential address form.
- Once you complete the forms, a Deputy Clerk in the County Clerk’s Office will look them over and give you a judge and a case number. They will ask you about any other cases either of you may have.
- You will then meet with a referee (attorney). They will review your forms, ask you questions, and report to the judge.
- You will then go to the judge’s office to meet with the judge’s clerk. The judge and/or clerk may ask you more questions. The judge will review your request and either sign your order, set it for a hearing, or deny it.
- Take the paperwork to the Clerk’s Office on the ground floor for filing. If the judge has signed the order, the County Clerk will give you copies of the order. The order will be put into a computer system that lets the police know there is a PPO.
- If a hearing has been set, the Clerk will explain how to ‘serve’ the paperwork.
- The PPO is in effect as soon as the judge signs it. The court may have problems enforcing the PPO if the abuser has not been served. The abuser must be served with copies of everything you file with the Clerk’s Office. The PPO Assistance Office can explain this to you.
- You must file a Proof of Service form with the Clerk’s Office. The court may have problems enforcing the PPO if Proof of Service is not in the court file.
- You do not have to let the abuser in your home because a court order says he/she can see the children. You can make other plans, such as having a friend or family member pick up and drop off the children. Or you can also meet at a police station or other public place. You may also ask for supervised parenting time through the court when you file your PPO.
- If you want your PPO removed, you must return to the courthouse where the PPO was given. You cannot change or remove the PPO by saying you no longer want the PPO. Only the court can change or remove a PPO. The abuser can be arrested for violating the PPO until it expires or until the court removes the order. An abuser violates the order if he does something the PPO does not allow. Do not agree to anything the PPO restricts, or invite the abuser to violate the PPO until the PPO expires or the court changes the PPO.
- CARRY A COPY OF YOUR PPO WITH YOU AT ALL TIMES!! This will help police enforce the PPO if there is a violation.
Remember, while PPOs do work, it is important to be careful and have a safety plan.