Orders of protection are a potent weapon to prevent physical abuse against a spouse or children and to obtain stay away orders which will result in exclusive occupancy of the marital residence during the time that the case is proceeding in the divorce court. In New York, orders of protection can be filed in either the Family Court, in which event they will have civil implications, or in the District Court where they will have criminal sanctions.
While no attorney is necessary to apply for or obtain an order of protection, in some instances it would be wise to obtain a lawyer of your own choosing to help obtain this order. Conversely, in the District Court, an assistant district attorney will be assigned to your case, and that will eliminate the cost and expense of obtaining your own attorney.
The law permits the filing in both courts simultaneously, and orders of protection may be issued by both courts. If you are ever threatened with bodily harm, or are the victim of a family assault, you should dial 911 immediately. The police will respond, and if there has in fact been an assault, normally an arrest will be made.
The order of protection when it does not grant a stay away order, will direct the party not to continue the abusive behavior. A failure to do so could result in an arrest and a contempt of court finding, ending in incarceration.
If in doubt whether you have a case or not, it is a good idea to visit your local Family Court and speak with an intake clerk.