While a TPO is a civil order, and has no criminal penalties, once the 12 month order is entered your life can drastically change. The punishment for violating a TPO is so severe that you can be charged with aggravated stalking, a criminal felony. Furthermore, a TPO will prevent you from having any form of contact (phone, text, physical, email, or through the use of another third person) with the protected party. A TPO even goes so far that if the protected party contacts you, you could be found in violation of the TPO, and could ultimately be arrested!
What to Do if a TPO is Served on You
Contact a qualified attorney immediately. There are certain legal steps that must be taken on your behalf, and they must be done quickly (because the hearing is going to be within the next 30 days.) Finally it is important to remember that since a TPO is a civil hearing, the burden on the petitioner (person who is asking for protection) is only a lower degree of certainty that would be needed in a criminal case. This means that it is easier for them to have a TPO entered against you, so you need qualified assistance to properly lay out your defenses.
What to Do if a TPO is Granted Against You
Be proactive in protecting yourself! Do not contact the protected party! If you are at a public place, and you see that the protected party is also there, contact a manager to escort you offer the premise. While leaving, get the name of the manager and write it down so you have a record to show you made every attempt possible to leave.