Family Abuse Prevention Act (FAPA) Restraining Orders
FAPA Crash Course - Getting Served
Getting ServedYou likely got a visit from a police officer who handed you a stack of papers. They told you that you were not allowed to talk to or contact the other party (called the "Petitioner"). They told you that you can request a hearing and explained that there was a form in the packet you could use to do so. From this moment forward, you are not permitted to contact the Petitioner. Not in person, by phone, text, Facebook, Twitter, messenger pigeon. Nothing. Not even if they contact you.
Move Out OrderSometimes restraining orders are between people who live together. If this is the case, most likely, you (the "Respondent") will have to leave. You will know if this applies to you because the officer will tell you to grab your essential items and go. This is a not a request. It is a lawful order and you must comply or face going to jail. Yes, it sucks. Yes, you will get a day in court. For now, keep a cool head and do what you are told.
When Children are InvolvedSometimes a restraining order will include an order requiring the police to recover a child from the Respondent. If this is the case, again, you must do as the officers tell you. Do not fight them. You are in a tough situation right now and if you keep a cool head, you will make better decisions. You WILL have a chance to go to court, but if you mouth off and go to jail, you damage your credibility moving forward.
Requesting a HearingThe packet of documents you have has a form you may fill out to request a hearing. You have thirty (30) days from the date that you were served to request a hearing. If there are children involved, the court is required to set a hearing within five (5) days of your request. This doesn't always happen, but the court does its best.
If there are no children, the court will contact you to set a hearing date. Be SURE that your contact information is correct so that the court can contact you for a hearing. If you miss the hearing, you lose.
If you are a hunter, own or rely on firearms, or are in the middle of a custody court case, you really should contact an attorney BEFORE you request a hearing. There are significant disadvantages you will face if you request a hearing and either lose, no show, or withdraw your request.
FirearmsRead your order carefully. You may be restricted from possessing firearms. If you are, you must immediately have someone come and take your firearms from your house. This is not a suggestion and the consequences of being found with firearms in your possession are serious. You will go to jail. You will be charged with a felony. You very likely will be convicted. Do not underestimate the power of this restraining order.
What Next?Restraining orders can affect your employment, your ability to obtain housing, your access to your children, and your right to own and possess firearms. The order will show up in any background checks and if you are stopped by the police. If you have money, get an attorney IMMEDIATELY. Do not talk to your friends and family about it. Don't ask mutual friends to ask the Petitioner why. Just get an attorney.
You will make it through this if you stay calm and do what you have been ordered to do. Your goal is to stay out of jail and get legal assistance.