Most orders of protection issued by New York Family Courts pursuant to family offense cases are for a period of 2 years. Sometimes an order of protection case is settled by the parties with the respondent (alleged abuser) agreeing to an order of protection without making any admission of wrongdoing. Orders of protection issued pursuant to this type of agreement are usually for a period of 1 year.
In some cases, the Family Court Judge or Referee can give the respondent “credit” for any time during which a temporary order of protection has been in effect. Also, the judge or referee can always issue a final order of protection in a family offense case for less than two years. This is usually done when the judge believes that the family offense involves acts or behavior which is annoying, but not abusive, and does not suggest safety risks.
Renewals of Family Court Orders Of Protection
Until recent years, once an order of protection expired, in order to get it renewed, a petitioner would have to prove a new violation or a new incident, and would have to file a new family offense petition. Now it is possible to extend an order of protection as long as the petitioner files for extension before the order of protection expires. It is not necessary to prove any new incident or violation, if the circumstances are such that the petitioner has a reason to believe that he or she is still unsafe.
The typical example is where the respondent has been in jail due to criminal court convictions pertaining to domestic violence against the respondent, and he is scheduled to be released in the near future. If, on the other hand, the respondent has had no contact whatsoever with the petitioner for almost two years and there is no reason to believe that he or she would be an actual threat to the petitioner’s safety, it is unlikely that the Family Court judge would extend the order.
The Family Court May Issue A 5 Year Order Of Protection If There Are Aggravating Circumstances
In some circumstances, New York Family Courts can issue 5 year orders of protection. A 5 year order of protection requires the Family Court to make specific findings of fact, so 5 year orders of protection can not be granted on consent and without an admission of wrongdoing. There must be a trial or hearing in order for the court to give a 5 year order. The required findings of fact must make out what they call “aggravating circumstances”.
It is usually much more difficult to get a 5 year order of protection than a 2 year order of protection, so if you are the petitioner, you will probably want to retain a good family law attorney to prosecute your case.
If you are the respondent, you probably need a good lawyer even more than a petitioner does, especially if you are a father and the order of protection affects your relationship with your child or children and/ or visitation rights or visitation orders.
Aggravating circumstances are found when the family court finds that the respondent has committed one or more family offenses n the following situations:
- Where the perpetrator uses a weapon or other dangerous instrument
- Where the victim has suffered actual significant physical injury
- Where the respondent has previously been found to have violated orders of protection issued on behalf of the victim
- Where the respondent has commited acts which constitute a course of conduct which exposes you or a member of your household to physical injury or this course of conduct exposes you or a member of your household to physical injury or constitutes other behaviour that poses a real danger to your family (which includes a spouse,child or children) or other household members.
- Where the perpetrator has already been found guilty of committing crimes against the petitioner