Table of Contents
About The Domestic
Order of Protection
Devise a Safety
How to Help
Cycle of Violence
What is an Order of Protection?
An Order of Protection is a civil legal document given
by the court, which helps protect you from physical violence, threats,
destruction of property, being held hostage, and being put in fear of
bodily harm. It can last for one year.
What can an Order of Protection do?
It orders your batterer not to bother you; make your
batterer move to or pay for another place for you and your children to
live; give you temporary custody of your children; give you support money
for yourself and/or the minor children you have together, and order your
batterer into counseling.
What are the two types of Orders?
The two types of Orders are a "No Contact" Order of Protection and a
"Social Contact" Order of Protection:
- A "No Contact Order" orders your batterer not to
telephone, contact, or otherwise communicate with you directly or
indirectly. Indirectly means your batterer can not beep you, write you
letters, contact your work, use a third party to send you messages, etc.
- A "Social Contact Order" states that you can
communicate with your batterer, and even live with your batterer, but
your batterer may not hurt you, attempt to hurt you, or threaten to
cause you harm.
What is an Ex Parte Order of Protection?
When you file for your Order of Protection, and after
the judge signs it, the clerk will give you two certified copies of an "Ex
Parte" Order of Protection. This order tells your batterer to stop hurting
and threatening you. You should keep a copy of this Order with you at all
times. It will be given to the court’s process servers to be served on
your batterer so it is very important that you provide the best
information possible as to where your batterer is so he can be served
quickly. An Order of Protection can not be made permanent for one year
without the "Ex Parte" Order being served on the batterer in person.
During this time, if you are hurt or threatened, call the police, make a
report, and contact your advocate or the court about what to do.
What if my batterer is not served with the Ex Parte Order?
If your batterer has not been served by the process
servers, you can ask a uniformed officer to serve one of your certified
copies of the Order on your batterer. If your batterer should come to your
home or you see your batterer call the police and ask them to serve your
papers. Be sure the uniformed officer understands a notice must go back to
the court when, where and who served the Order. If this notice doesn’t
appear in your court file, you may not be able to go forward with your
permanent Order of Protection. Be sure you know the officer’s name, badge
number, when, and where the Order was served and let the court know.
Do I have to go to court?
YES! When you file for your Order of Protection you
will receive a court date for approximately two weeks. You must attend
your court date to obtain your Order. On your court day, you will meet
with an advocate who will assist you and your batterer. There are two
types of Orders - an Agreed Order and a Contested Order.
- An Agreed Order means you and your batterer have
agreed to everything on the Order before going to see the Judge. 98% of
the Orders are resolved by agreement. If you don’t come to an agreement,
you will still see the Judge.
- A Contested Order means that you and your batterer
are not able to agree on some of the conditions of the Order. In this
case the Judge hears both sides of the story and then makes a decision.
You can have witnesses or other proof of the abuse. If
the Judge feels that you have not proved your case, he can dismiss your
Order and you will have to pay all court costs.
What do I do if my batterer breaks the Order of Protection?
Call the police and tell them about the Order of
Protection and try to have a copy ready to show them. Make a report. The
police can arrest your batterer without a warrant if they find probable
cause that the Order has been violated. You also have the right to file a
Show Cause in the court where you were granted the Order. A Show Cause
tells the Judge that the Order has been violated. You will be given a
court date in which you will need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that
the Order was broken. It is important to bring any witnesses, medical
records, taped messages, written notes, caller ID box, etc. If the Judge
finds that the Order of Protection was violated, you batterer can get up
to ten days for each violation.
How do I get an Order of Protection?
An Order of Protection is free to file and you do not
need an attorney to obtain an Order of Protection. In Knox county you have
two choices. You can either go to the Fourth Circuit Court in the City
County Building (215-2404) and file or, if you live in the city you can go
to the Knoxville Police Department (215-7385), or if you live in the
county, you can go to the Knox County Sheriff's Department Family Crisis
Unit (215-2455). Both the Knoxville Police Department and the Knox County
Sheriff's Department have a counselor or advocate who can assist you with
the Order of Protection.
Be at 4th Circuit Court at 9:00 AM, and plan to stay
Bring your Order of Protection and any other court
papers with you
Everyone should attend Judge Swann’s talk. Many of
your questions will be answered and instructions will be given.
Bring money for parking and lunch.
Court will be in recess from 12 to 1:30 for lunch
Please do not bring your children to court. Children
are not allowed in the courtroom, and there is no one available to watch
Please remember to be courteous in the courtroom.
Whisper quietly when waiting for your case to be heard. Food, drinks,
gum, or hats are not permitted in the courtroom. Address the Judge as
It is your responsibility to be sure that your final
order of protection (If a No Contact Order) includes no contact by
telephone, fax, email, pager, US mail, or third parties. Discuss this
with your advocate or attorney.
Be in court at 9:00 am. Bring your subpoena with you. It will have
information to help you find the proper courtroom.
If you do not receive a subpoena with in 5 days of the arrest, call
the District Attorney’s office (215-2515) and tell them you need to know
when you are scheduled for court.
Once in the courtroom you need to check in with the District
Attorney. They are the people that are on the right side of the
courtroom. Make sure they know you are in court. If you are late it is
ok to go to the table and tell them you are present in the courtroom.
You are not required to speak to the attorney for the defendant. Don't
let them intimidate you.
An Assistant District Attorney will interview you about the case.
The Assistant District Attorney is a lawyer who represents the State of
Tennessee. Once your case is in criminal court you are no longer the
person pressing charges the State is pressing charges. You will be
interviewed and the Assistant District Attorney will make a decision
based on the interview.
The Assistant District Attorney may decide to plead
the case based on the interview. What this means is the Defendant
(person charged) is going to say he is guilty of something. Most times the person
will be put on probation. There will be conditions on his probation,
and if these conditions are not complied with the Assistant District
Attorney or the Probation office may file a Violation of Probation
putting the Defendant in jail to serve his sentence.
The Assistant District Attorney may decide to take the case to a
preliminary hearing. This will mean that the victim will get on the
stand and testify about the incident that brought them into court.
The Judge who hears the preliminary hearing will not decide the
guilt or innocence of the Defendant. Under the Constitution of the
United States every person charged with a crime has the right to be
convicted by a jury of his or her peers. The Judge will decide if there
is probable cause to send the case on to the Grand Jury. Probable cause
means it is more likely than not that the incident occurred.
If the Judge sends the case on to the Grand Jury you will have to
appear again in about 90 days in front of the Grand Jury. If you move
during that time or your phone number changes you need to contact the
The Grand Jury is a group of citizens who will decide if your case
will go on to Criminal Court. Again, they will not decide the guilt or
innocence of the Defendant, they will decide probable cause.
The Grand Jury will either "True Bill" or "No True Bill" the case.
If the case is "True Billed" then it will go on to a jury trial in front
of a Judge and Jury. If it is "No True Billed" then the Grand Jury did
not find probable cause and the case will not proceed.
Once the case has been sent to Criminal Court the Defendant will be
arraigned and a court date will be set. You will have to come back and
testify in front of a Judge and Jury on the day of the trial. You need
to remain in contact with the District Attorney’s office.
If you have any questions about Criminal Court or your case you need
to contact the District Attorney’s office. It is important that you make
your wishes known to the Prosecutor who is handling your case. If you
move or change phone numbers you need to inform the District Attorney’s