The Personal Protection Order and the Motion to Dismiss or Modify the PPO
The Personal Protection Order is intended to be a tool that a person can use when they have reasonable cause to be in fear of certain intrusions upon their liberty. This is an interesting concept and must be evaluated within the context of the three types of personal protection orders (PPO) that can be sought and obtained by an individual that petitions the court for this particular type of relief. There is the domestic relationship PPO, the stalking PPO, and the PPO for the protection of a juvenile. Each type of PPO serves a particular purpose and requires certain minimum showings necessary for a judge to order that such relief be put in place. This concept is important to understand because it has a direct effect on the ability to have such an order dismissed or altered because of the particular facts and allegations of the complainant.
Another important fact that to consider is that a PPO strips certain freedoms away from the person who's behavior or actions are being restricted, and can do so without providing this individual with the right to respond to or challenge the validity of the accusations alleged against the person whom the PPO will most directly effect. Upon a judge's grant of an order authorizing a PPO, the other person's right to possess or purchase firearms is automatically revoked regardless of their criminal history. Other specific behaviors or conduct will also be restricted, but the loss of this right is the most harsh.
The loss of this right can be particularly frustrating to avid hunters and outdoor sportsmen and sportswomen. Not only is this right revoked within the state of the issuing court, it is revoked across the country becuase this order is binding upon the entire United States and its territories. This is particularly troublesome because even if the issuing judge agrees to modify the PPO to allow possession of firearms within the state of the issuing court, federal authorities will not recognize this modification and being found in possession of a firearm in another state will result in contempt of court charges. Charges that carry a possible penalty of 93 days in jail and/or a $500.00 fine and/or up to two years of probation. Moreover, any attempt to purchase a firearm will be denied and could also result in similar consequences.
If a PPO has been entered against you, you will have only fourteen days to seek a motion to modify or terminate the order. Taking longer than fourteen days will threaten your chance of having your day in court because it will allow the judge to consider the reasons for the delay and possibly result in you not being able to properly challenge the validity of the PPO, even when you have direct evidence that the petitioner was untruthful or had exaggerated the accusations in the affidavit. The respondent (person that must act fast in filing their motion to terminate or modify, there is not filing fee for such a motion, however inaction likely will not be well taken or forgiven by the issuing judge.
Another key fact about the hearing that is held for the termination or modification of the PPO, is that the petitioner has the burden of stating the reasons for and proving the necessity of having the PPO. The respondent then has the opportunity to cross examine the petitioner. This cross examination is crucial in persuading the judge that their is no reasonable cause for the court to believe that the respondent would engage in certain acts defined in MCL 600.2950(1). It is important that a person hire competent and skilled legal counsel to perform this cross examination because it is vital to the chances of that individual in persuading the judge of the necessity of either terminating or modifying the PPO.
The other thing that an attorney is necessary for is their ability to talk and work out a mutual compromise that can replace the PPO that is currently in place and serve to restore the respondent's personal freedoms. Typically, an attorney's ability to discuss such mutual agreement or compromise is the best form of relief because it provides a guarantee as to what the individual can expect, whereas having the termination/modification hearing presents the inherant risk of having the judge deny the request rather than granting the relief requested.
If a PPO has been entered against you and you want to challenge it, it is vital that you seek the help of an attorney with experience in resolving these types of cases.
Scott G. Millard