Protective Orders

Have you been served with a protective order or restraining order in the District of Columbia or Old Town Alexandria? If so, then you should be aware of which type of order you were served and what it means. But don’t let the protective order scare you – even though you must follow the terms of the order flawlessly, you can still challenge it in court.

S.L. England, a respected criminal defense attorney in the D.C./Virginia metro area, can help you challenge the order while providing legal guidance so you do not violate any of the terms of the order. Violations can carry significant penalties. Before you do anything that can work against you, take and breath and contact S.L. England. You have rights. And you can get yourself a good defense attorney to uphold those rights.


Both Virginia and the District of Columbia issue protective orders, also called protection orders or restraining orders, when requested and approved. The available protective orders are slightly different, however, in both jurisdictions. If you have been served a protective order, make sure you know which one you have or contact S.L. England with questions about it.


In Virginia, there are three basic types of protective orders: 

  1. Emergency Protective Orders, which are authorized by Virginia Code  § 19.2-152.8, expire either on the third day following the issuance of the order or the next day court is in session – whichever happens later.
  2. Preliminary Protective Orders, which are authorized by Virginia Code § 19.2-152.9, last 15 days or until a full hearing is held.
  3. Protective Orders, which are authorized by Virginia Code § 19.2-152.10, may last up to 2 years.


The District of Columbia also has three different types of protective orders, but they are slightly different.

  1. Temporary Protection Orders, which are governed by D.C. Code § 16–1004, last up to 14 days unless the last day falls on a weekend, a holiday observed by the court, or a day the court is closed due to any other reason (e.g., weather), in which case the order is extended until the next day the court is open.
  2. Civil Protection Orders, which are governed by D.C. Code § 16–1003 and § 16–1005, last up to one year.
  3. Extreme Risk Protection Orders, which are governed by D.C. Code § 7–2510.01 et seq., are orders issued when the alleged victim wants your firearm, license to carry a concealed pistol, registration certificate, and/or ammunition removed from your possession.


Protective orders are meant to protect the health and safety of a person whom the court believes is a victim of domestic violence. As the alleged offender, you have the right to challenge the order.

A hearing will be held, and at this hearing, the petitioner (the alleged victim) must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that his or her health and safety are in harm’s way due to the alleged offender. The harm the petitioner may claim can include but is not limited to the following:

  • violence
  • threats of violence or death
  • physical assault
  • sexual assault
  • stalking.

At this same hearing, you – through your criminal defense attorney – will challenge the claim.  Your attorney will provide evidence that counters the petitioner’s claims. Evidence may include but is not limited to the following examples:

  • written accounts of what happened that led to the protective order request
  • witness statements
  • videos of what happened
  • photographs of what happened
  • Text messages or other digital documents (e.g., Facebook posts, Instagram posts, etc.)
  • Phone records
  • GPS records.

Any small detail may prove an important part of the puzzle. Be sure to disclose everything to your attorney. When you face a protective order, a lot is on the line, and embarrassment or regret about what happened won’t help you – so be clear and specific when telling your attorney exactly what happened.

In many cases, protective orders are the result of intense emotions. Many times, the alleged victim changes his or her mind. Many times, too, allegations are made as a means to get revenge. Other times, something really did transpire and the victim really did have cause to fear for his or her well-being.

In any of these scenarios, to get the best outcome in your case, no surprises should be left for your attorney to find out about later. That alone can undermine the defense strategy your attorney has worked so hard to develop.


Violations of the terms and conditions of a protective order can result in serious penalties, including fines and jail time for up to 180 days in either Virginia or D.C.

So, when the protective order says no contact, then do not contact the alleged victim regardless of whether that person is your spouse, partner, child, ex-partner, or any other person. Also, keep in mind that there are many other terms that must be abided or else risk being charged with a violation and suffering the consequences if found guilty.


If you have been served a protection order in the D.C./Virginia metro area, contact S.L. England today. He will help you understand what you can and cannot do while the protective order is in place and how you can challenge the order to uphold your rights.

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