Every state in the country will issue some sort of protective order that requires an alleged abuser to stay away from his (or her) victim. The length of time for these order can vary drastically, though. Most can be granted immediately but may require a hearing within anywhere from a few days to a month in order to stay in force. These temporary restraining orders can also be made permanent in some circumstances.
Usually, only short-term orders can be issued immediately
A restraining order by its definition takes away the rights of an alleged abuser to do something he or she could otherwise do. For example, an alleged abuser may be unable to freely move about his neighborhood if his victim lives there. As a result, courts do not like to issue long-term orders without giving the alleged abuser a chance to respond. Some states will issue long-term orders immediately but allow for them to be rescinded if the alleged abuser wants to challenge the order in court. Other states will only issue short-term orders lasting a few days until the alleged abuser has a chance to appear in a hearing. After a hearing, these courts will often issue a long-term temporary restraining order or even a permanent restraining order. We will look at a couple different states for examples.
No maximum – Michigan personal protective orders
Michigan has no maximum length for what the state calls a “personal protective order.” A judge can issue such an order the same day it is requested, so long as the person requesting it has shown specific facts demonstrating an immediate risk of injury or loss that will be made worse delaying to give the alleged abuser time to respond. This protective order must be valid “for not less than 182 days.” Once an order is issued, however, the alleged abuser must be given notice and he or she can request a hearing to modify or rescind the order. This hearing must be scheduled within 14 days of the request. When the order is about to expire, the victim can also go back to court to have it extended. So, unless the alleged abuser wants to object in court, a Michigan personal protective order can last a very long time.
Strict time limits – Virginia emergency, preliminary, and 2-year protective orders
In Virginia, state law imposes strict time limits on the court for three different kinds of temporary protective orders. The first type is an “emergency protective order,” which can be issued without notice to the alleged abuser to prevent probable danger against a victim. These emergency protective orders can be requested by law enforcement 24 hours a day, any day of the week, but they generally only last three business days, until the victim can appear in court. Upon appearing in court, a victim can receive a 15-day “preliminary protective order.” This can require only a short hearing where the alleged abuser is not present, but at this short hearing, the court must schedule a later full hearing where the alleged abuse can appear, if he or she chooses. After a full hearing, a court can issue a full protective order that can last up to two years.