Defending Against a Protective Order in Indiana
When someone seeks to enter a protection order against you it can impact your daily activities, reputation, and ultimately, your livelihood. Given this, it’s vital that the first thing you do upon being served is seek out an attorney who has experience defending against a protective order in Indiana. The process of fighting a protection order is complex, so working with a dedicated Indiana protection order attorney will be crucial to securing the best possible outcome in this otherwise stressful situation.
As former deputy prosecutors, many of the criminal defense lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP have considerable experience in this area of law. They understand how courts approach matters related to Indiana protection orders, and which defense strategies provide the best chance of having the order entered against you dismissed. To speak with an attorney today, call 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free, confidential consultation with a member of our team.
The Basics of Indiana Protective Orders
Indiana protective orders, which are governed by the Indiana Civil Protection Act in Indiana Code 34-26-5, are orders issued by civil courts that restrict a person’s contact with another individual. In cases involving orders of this nature, the person who is seeking protection is referred to as the petitioner. In contrast, the person they’re seeking protection from is referred to as the respondent. In other words, the respondent is the person who would be defending against the protective order in Indiana.
For the purposes of this law, the respondent must be a family or household member of the petitioner; a person who is alleged to have threatened or caused physical harm such as by battery, stalking, harassment, or the commission of a sex offense against the petitioner; or a person who is alleged to have, without justification, threatened or caused harm to a vertebrate animal of the petitioner, such as by abuse, torture, mutilation, or death, in order to threaten, intimidate, coerce, harass, or terrorize a family member. Furthermore, as stated in Indiana Code 34-6-3-44.8, a “family or household member,” includes:
- A current or former spouse
- A person who currently dates or has dated the petitioner
- A person with whom the petitioner has engaged in sexual relations
- Someone who shares a child with the petitioner
- A relative by blood, adoption, or marriage, including through a current or former marriage
- A current or former guardian, ward, custodian, foster parent, or other similar relationship
In general, there are a handful of behaviors that Courts look for when determining whether to grant a protective order. These behaviors include domestic violence, threatening behavior, harassment, stalking or the commission of a sex crime.
The Protective Order Process
When a petitioner files a protection order against another person, a judge can either choose to hold a hearing or they can issue a protective order ex parte (without a hearing). Hearings are not completely uncommon and are actually required under some circumstances, like when the petition only alleges harassment or when the situation involves eviction or parenting time arrangements.
Judges often issue uniform protective orders via form, but they can also elect to tailor the order to the specific circumstances of the situation at hand. However, doing so may require a hearing to be held within 30 days. This occurs when the protective order requires:
- The respondent to be evicted from the petitioner’s home
- The respondent to cede possession and use of a shared home, vehicle, or personal items (including an animal) to the petitioner
- The respondent to refrain from taking action against an animal
Under some circumstances, the court is compelled to hold a hearing before it can issue a protective order. This pertains to situations where the order would affect a parenting time schedule or require the respondent to pay attorney fees, rent/mortgage payments, child support, spousal maintenance, medical expenses, or GPS tracking device costs. Courts are also required to hold a hearing before entering a protective order that prohibits the respondent from possessing firearms, ammunition, or deadly weapons; or would require the respondent to surrender any of those effects.
The Effects of a Protective Order
If granted, the protective order would be effective for two years (unless a different duration is stated in the order) and will legally restrict the respondent from directly or indirectly contacting, harassing, or communicating with the petitioner of the order. In addition, the order would require the respondent to stay away from the petitioner’s home and other prominent places in the petitioner’s life, such as their place of employment or school. Finally, the protective order also restricts the respondent from stalking, harassing, or threatening the petitioner or members of their family.
In situations where the respondent and petitioner share a home, vehicle, or other assets, the court may impose additional restrictions or requirements. For instance, the court may order the respondent to vacate the home or require the respondent to cede control of an automobile or other personal effects to the petitioner.
If the respondent is found to be in violation of the order, they may be arrested and face criminal charges for invasion of privacy, contempt of court, or criminal stalking. The penalties for these offenses vary based on the severity of the violations. However, the most serious violations could result in the respondent being charged with a Level 5 felony in Indiana, which carries the potential penalty of up to six years in prison and fines of up to $10,000. Given the gravity of these potential consequences, it’s crucial that anyone who has had an order filed against them hire a lawyer that is adept at defending against protective orders in Indiana. To speak with a protective order attorney in Indiana today call 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
Defending Against a Protective Order in Indiana
When it comes to defending against a protective order in Indiana, there are several defense strategies that an experienced attorney may employ to challenge the request. Most often, an attorney will (on behalf of their client) deny the allegations made by the petitioner. However, they may also attempt to show that the petitioner lacks the legal requirements for obtaining a protective order. Finally, an attorney may argue that the purpose of the petitioner’s request is to gain an unfair advantage in another, unrelated legal proceeding.
When employing a defense strategy aimed at denying the allegations made by the petitioner, the respondent should present evidence refuting the grounds of the order. For instance, the respondent could show evidence that they did not commit the acts alleged by the petitioner or that the allegations made against them are exaggerated. Furthermore, when defending against the protective order in Indiana, the respondent could introduce evidence that the petitioner is NOT a victim of domestic or family violence, a sex crime, or stalking, under Indiana law.
In addition, the court is within its right to refuse the issuance of a protective order if the respondent is able to show that the request is being used to gain an unfair advantage in another unrelated legal proceeding. This type of situation may occur when the respondent and petitioner are engaged in other legal proceedings, possibly related to child custody or divorce.
Grounds for Dismissal
Defending against a protective order in Indiana can be challenging. However, an Indianapolis protection order attorney can help you determine your options and explain how to get the Indiana protection order dismissed.
Depending on the specific facts of the case, some respondents may be able to file a motion to dismiss the protection order. Under Indiana Code 34-26-5-12, the grounds required to do so are as follows:
- Failure to Follow the Process for Issuing an Order of Protection
- Failure to Demonstrate the Statutory Grounds for Issuing an Order of Protection
- Failure to Demonstrate that Respondent Poses a Threat
- Use of Fraud, Misrepresentation, or Other Improper Means to Obtain Protective Order
- Agreed Dismissal of an Order of Protection
Once a respondent (or their attorney) has identified the grounds for dismissal, they’ll need to locate and present evidence to support the motion. This could include obtaining witness statements, police reports, medical records, etc.
After gathering the necessary evidence, the respondent (or their attorney) will proceed to file a motion to dismiss with the court, clearly stating the grounds for dismissal, along with a detailed explanation as to why the protection order should be dismissed.
After the motion to dismiss has been filed, the court may set the motion for a hearing. At this point, the respondent and their attorney will need to appear for the hearing to present their evidence to the court. However, the petitioner may present their evidence and argue in support of denying your motion.
Need Help Defending Against a Protective Order in Indiana?
If you need help defending against a protective order in Indiana, the Indiana defense lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP stand ready to assist you. Our team, which is made up of former deputy prosecutors and skilled litigators, has a strong understanding of how Indiana courts operate and what sort of evidence will be required to have the order entered against you dismissed.
There’s no need to let this protective order loom over you. Speak with an attorney today by calling 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free, confidential consultation with a member of our team.