What You Should Know About Personal Protection Orders in Michigan
February 12th, 2021
A Personal Protection Order (PPO), also known as a restraining order, is a court order that is put in place to protect people who are victims of domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking. Personal Protection Orders are a type of injunction that prevents one person from taking certain actions that threaten or otherwise cause harm to another person. If there is a personal protection order in place against you, police can intervene anytime the person who filed for the PPO feels threatened.
To obtain personal protection orders, the Petitioner (the person requesting the PPO) files a Motion for the Personal Protective Order against a Respondent (the person against whom the PPO is requested) asking a judge to order the Respondent to stop:
- Contacting the Petitioner in person or by phone, email, etc.
- Entering the Petitioner’s property, dwelling, or workplace
- Assaulting, attacking, harassing, stalking, threatening, or beating the Petitioner
- Removing minor children from the Petitioner’s residence unless the removal is part of court-ordered visitation
- Interfering with the Petitioner’s efforts to remove children or property
- Purchasing or possessing a firearm
Emergency Personal Protective Orders
A person who believes they are in immediate danger can request an ex parte personal protection order. These orders take effect immediately upon the judge’s signature, without a hearing or notice to the Respondent.
To have an emergency ex parte PPO granted, the Petitioner must present specific facts that show that the Petitioner is in danger of immediate and irreparable injury, harm, or damage that cannot be repaired by a court order after the injury occurs.
Non-Emergency Personal Protective Orders
In non-emergency situations, the Petitioner must request a hearing before a circuit judge to have a PPO issued. The judge will hear testimony from witnesses regarding the circumstances that the Petitioner believes require that a PPO be granted.
When the Petitioner files for a PPO, a copy of the motion for a PPO will be given to the Respondent.
If a PPO is granted, it will take effect as soon as it is signed by the judge. But is only enforceable once it has been served upon the Respondent. When the PPO has been served on the respondent, the Respondent has up to 14 days to contest the order. The Respondent can request a hearing to explain to the judge why the PPO should never have been ordered. Common reasons to contest a PPO include that the reasons for the PPO were lies, or that the information presented in the request for a PPO was somehow incorrect or untrue.
If a Respondent fails to contest a PPO within 14 days, the PPO will remain in effect for as long as the order specifies.
Types of Personal Protective Orders in Michigan
Michigan recognizes three different kinds of Personal Protection Orders.
Domestic Relationship PPO
A Domestic Relationship PPO may be put in place if the Petitioner believes that the Respondent is likely to assault, threaten, or stalk the Petitioner. Someone is eligible for a Domestic Relationship PPO if the Respondent is the Petitioner’s:
- Current or ex-spouse
- Current or former domestic partner
- Former romantic partner
Non-Domestic (Stalking) PPO
A Non-Domestic (Stalking) PPO protects the Petitioner from stalking or harassing behavior by someone with whom the Petitioner does not have a domestic relationship. To request a Non-Domestic PPO, the Respondent must show that there have been at least two incidents of harassment. Harassment means contact that the Petitioner does not want, that has no valid purpose, and that causes the Petitioner emotional harm or fear and would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional harm or fear.
A Petitioner may seek a Non-Domestic (Stalking) PPO to prevent the Respondent from:
- Posting messages about them on the internet
- Following the Petitioner
- Approaching or confronting the Petitioner
- Going to property owned, rented, or occupied by the Petitioner
- Placing an object or delivering an object to property owned, rented, or occupied by the Petitioner
- Calling or sending mail or other messages to the Petitioner
- Threatening the Petitioner
- Cyberstalking the Petitioner
Non-Domestic Sexual Assault PPO
A Non-Domestic Sexual Assault PPO is intended to protect the Petitioner from someone who has sexually assaulted or threatened to sexually assault the Petitioner when the Petitioner does not have a domestic relationship with the respondent.
A Non-Domestic Sexual Assault PPO can be put in place to prevent a Respondent from:
- Threatening to sexually assault or otherwise harm the Petitioner
- Following the Petitioner
- Appearing, approaching, or confronting the Petitioner at their home or work
- Entering the Petitioner’s home or another place
- Going onto property owned, rented, or occupied by the Petitioner
- Calling the Petitioner
- Sending the Petitioner mail or other messages
- Cyberstalking the Petitioner
- Interfering with the Petitioner at work or school, or interfering with the Petitioner in a way that will affect their relationships or environment at work or school
- Interfering with the Petitioner when removing children or property from a place that is owned or leased by the Respondent
In any motion for personal protection orders, the judge will decide what specific conduct will be prohibited by the PPO.
Burden of Proof for Personal Protective Orders
To issue a PPO in Michigan, a judge must find that there is reasonable cause to issue the order. Reasonable cause is a low burden of proof, which is slightly more than a reasonable suspicion but less than probable cause.
A Michigan judge cannot refuse to grant a PPO unless they are satisfied that reasonable cause does not exist.
Why You Should Care if There is a Personal Protection Order Against You
A PPO is not a criminal case and does not give you a criminal record, but it can affect your freedom. A PPO is a matter of public record and can prevent you from:
- Appearing in certain locations, and even your own home
- Communicating with the Petitioner and other people covered by the PPO, including your children
- Possessing a gun
In addition, you can:
- Be arrested and charged with contempt of court for allegedly violating a PPO
- Face potential fines and jail time for violating a PPO
- Have a PPO be a factor in a divorce or child custody hearing
How to Contest a Motion for Personal Protection Orders
If someone has filed for a PPO against you, you should contact a criminal defense lawyer as quickly as possible. Your lawyer can ask the judge to modify the terms of the PPO or challenge the entire basis for the PPO.
Remember, you only have 14 days after you have been served with the PPO to file a motion to modify or terminate the PPO. If you do not respond to the PPO, it will be granted and will remain in effect for as long as the order specifies.
If you file your motion challenging the PPO, the court will schedule a hearing within 14 days. If you a law enforcement officer and the PPO prevents you from carrying a gun, the hearing will be scheduled within 5 days.
How Elmen Legal Can Help
If someone has filed a motion for a personal protection order against you, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible.
At Elmen Legal, I know that being threatened with a PPO is stressful. But I’m here help, and take pride in being an advocate who cares, and who helps people through difficult times.
I will work with you as an individual, advising you of the laws that apply to your case and working hard to minimize the likelihood that the judge will grant the PPO. And if the judge does decide to grant the PPO, I will work hard to ensure that it is minimally restrictive and imposes the least disruption possible.
Categories: Domestic Violence