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  • Maddie Cohen

What Is a Personal Protection Order (PPO)?

A personal protection order (PPO) is also known as a restraining order.


PPOs are court orders designed to protect people who have experienced domestic violence, harassment, or stalking. When a PPO is in place, the authorities will intervene whenever the person who filed—the petitioner—feels threatened.


This article will offer an overview of how personal protection orders work.


How Can You Get a Personal Protection Order?

To acquire a PPO, the petitioner must file a motion against the respondent, or the person by whom they feel threatened. The filing will ask a judge to order the respondent to stop:


  • Contacting the petitioner (in person, or by phone or email).

  • Entering the petitioner’s home or workplace.

  • Harassing, stalking, threatening, or attacking the petitioner.

  • Interfering with the petitioner’s attempt to take children or property from the home (if the petitioner and the respondent share a residence).

  • Buying or possessing a firearm while the order is in place.


Clearly, the respondent shouldn’t be harassing the petitioner regardless of whether a PPO is in place. A PPO, however, will keep things from escalating if other measures have failed to do so.


Emergency vs. Non-Emergency PPOs

If the petitioner fears they are in immediate danger, they can request what is known as an ex parte PPO. This is a special emergency order that takes effect as soon as the judge signs the filing. In these cases, the PPO does not require a hearing, or that any notice be given to the respondent.


To obtain an ex parte PPO, the petitioner must present evidence that proves they are in immediate danger of injury, harm, or damage that cannot be repaired via court order after the fact.


In non-emergency situations, a hearing must take place before the judge can issue a PPO. The hearing will feature testimony from witnesses, ensuring an objective take on the circumstances.


As soon as the petitioner files for a non-ex parte PPO, the respondent will receive a copy of the motion.


How Long Does It Take to Get a PPO?

Emergency PPOs take effect quickly, often within one business day—as soon as they are signed by the judge.


Non-emergency PPOs also take effect as soon as they are signed by the judge, although this generally takes longer because they require a hearing. In addition, these PPOs are only enforceable once they have been served to the respondent.


After being served, the respondent has 14 days to contest the PPO. They may request another hearing to explain why the PPO shouldn’t have been ordered. To do this, they must prove the reasons for the PPO were untruthful or otherwise skewed.


If the respondent doesn’t contest the PPO, the personal protection order will take effect for as long as the judge specifies.

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