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Personal Protection Orders

In certain circumstances, obtaining a personal protection order is necessary in order to protect an individual or individuals in our community. Obtaining a PPO is a very serious matter. It has considerable legal implications for all parties involved, including the person who pursues the petition. The decision to pursue a PPO should not be taken lightly. A PPO is not a tool for getting even, seeking revenge or trying to gain unfair leverage in a relationship.

This section of the Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office Web Site provides you with the following helpful information regarding personal protection orders (PPO’S):

1. WHAT IS A PPO?

2. IS A PPO NECESSARY?

3. HOW DO I GET A PPO?

4. HOW DO I SEEK ENFORCEMENT OF A PPO IF THERE IS A VIOLATION?

5. YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES

6. ANSWERING OTHER QUESTIONS

Feel free to browse below to find answers and information regarding PPO’s.

 

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1. WHAT IS A PPO?
A Personal Protection Order (PPO) is a court order, signed by a Judge, that restrains named individuals from contacting you. A PPO is obtained by filing a "petition" for protection with the court. A PPO can provide important relief and protection in certain circumstances. But remember, filing for a PPO is a serious matter.

 

2. IS A PPO NECESSARY?
In order to determine if a PPO is necessary you must determine if you are at great risk of harm. To help evaluate the risk look at the following factors:

Threats of Physical Violence

Physical Abuse

Stalking and Harassment

Destruction of Personal Property

If one or more of the above are present, it may be necessary to take the serious step of filing for a PPO.


3. HOW DO I GET A PPO?

A. Compile the facts. To get a personal protection order, compile all supporting evidence, notes, pictures and police reports, if available, that you believe support the necessity of obtaining a PPO.

Your next step is to go to the Circuit Court Records Office, located on the Sixth Floor of the Muskegon County Building, 990 Terrace Street, Muskegon, Michigan. At that location, you can formally apply for a PPO.

In your application for a PPO you must allege specific incidents to support your claim that a PPO is necessary. Therefore, give dates and locations of any incidents where you felt threatened by the person for whom you are seeking a protection order against (This person is called the respondent). You must also explain specifically what actions you want to preclude or have stopped. This can include a no phone contact provision, a no personal contact provision, no writing of letters or even keeping the respondent a specific distance away from you. The Circuit Court Records Office will then send you to a Circuit Court Judge who will review the petition.

B. Your petition will then be reviewed by a Judge. A Circuit Court Judge will look at your petition and may ask you some questions. If the Judge asks you questions, answer them clearly and truthfully. Once the Judge looks at the petition, the Judge will decide whether to issue the PPO. What the Judge decides to do with your petition once you file it is based on the amount of harm or risk of harm the Judge feels you are in at that particular time. The Judge has two basic options::

i) Option One: Immediate PPO authorization by the Judge. If the Judge feels that you are at a risk of immediate and irreparable harm, injury, loss, or damage the Judge will issue an order of protection immediately.

a. You must then provide the Respondent with a copy of the PPO

If the Judge, immediately orders the issuance of a PPO, you will be given copies of your protection order. Copies must also be given, or "served" upon the respondent. By law, you are responsible for insuring that the PPO is personally served on the respondent. Please note, however, that you cannot personally serve the PPO on the respondent or even put it in the mail. However, you may have anyone over 18 years of age serve the PPO on the respondent. Additionally, you may hire a process server, who will charge you a fee to serve the PPO.

b. You must then place the PPO On Record with Law Enforcement. Once the PPO is served, a copy must be taken to your local police department so the order can be entered into the Law Enforcement Information System (LEIN) so that all law enforcement agencies will be aware of the PPO. If you have hired a process server, he or she will take care of delivering a copy of the PPO to your local police department.

ii. Option Two: Denial of a PPO after initial review by the Judge.

The Judge may decide that an immediate PPO authorization is not necessary.

a. Asking for a Hearing.

If the Judge decides not to issue an immediate order, you still can ask for a hearing. You will be required to be present at the hearing. The respondent will also be given notice requiring his/her presence at the hearing. At that hearing, you will give your reasons to the Judge why you need a PPO, personal protection order. The respondent will also be given an opportunity to present his/her reasons why he/she believes a PPO should not be issued. If the Judge decides at any time not to issue an order of protection, you have the right to reapply for a protection order at any time, but you will have to show how circumstances have changed, or how they have gotten worse, before you reapply.

b. Respondent receiving a copy of the PPO at the hearing

If a PPO is granted by a Judge at a hearing, a copy of the order will be served on the respondent by the court at the time of the hearing.

c. You must then place the PPO On Record with Law Enforcement. Once the hearing is completed and the PPO is served on the respondent, a copy must be taken by you to your local police department so the order can be entered into the Law Enforcement Information System (LEIN).

C. Keep the PPO with you at all times. By keeping a copy of the PPO signed by the Judge with you at all times, you will provide the police with a greater opportunity to effectively enforce your PPO.


4. HOW DO I SEEK ENFORCEMENT OF MY PPO IF THERE IS A VIOLATION?

A. Contact the Police. The personal protection order is a court order which all parties must obey. If an act prohibited by the protection order is committed, then the violator/respondent may be found in contempt of court. First, however, you must report the violation. Call the police immediately - don’t wait a few hours or even a few minutes. Tell the police that you have a personal protection order and tell them what was done to violate that order. A listing of area law enforcement agencies is located in the ‘Law Enforcement Section" of the Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Website. Once the police arrive they will make a determination whether they can arrest the respondent.

i. Respondent arrested by the Police. If the police arrest the respondent, he/she will be brought before a Judge for an arraignment on the PPO. This means that the Judge will read the allegations and set a bond for the respondent. At this arraignment, a Personal Protection Order Violation Hearing will be scheduled and the respondent given notice of this hearing. The Prosecutor’s Office will then be informed and ultimately make a decision whether there is enough evidence to proceed with a PPO violation hearing. You will be informed of the hearing date for any PPO violation hearing. Your presence will be essential. At this hearing, an assistant prosecutor will present evidence to prove to the Court that a violation of the order has occurred. Your testimony will be very important in proving the violation. Make sure that you bring to the hearing any witnesses, letters, correspondence or any other evidence of the respondent’s violation of the PPO.

ii. Respondent not arrested by the Police. If the police do not arrest the respondent, and you still wish to pursue a PPO violation, you must file a motion at Circuit Court records, the place where you first obtained the PPO. A hearing date will be set. By law, you are responsible for insuring that the Notice of Hearing is personally served on the respondent. Please note, however, that you cannot personally serve the Notice of Hearing on the respondent or even put it in the mail. However, you may have anyone over 18 years of age serve the Notice of Hearing on the respondent. You may also hire a process server, who will charge you a fee to serve the Notice of Hearing.

B. Personal Protection Order Violation Hearing At a hearing on a violation of a personal protection order, if the Court finds that a violation has occurred, the respondent can be sentenced to a maximum of 93 days in jail and/or be assessed a fine of not more than $500. If the Court finds that a violation has not occurred, the respondent will be released.


5. YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES

You have certain responsibilities for not causing the PPO to be violated. For example you cannot invite the respondent to come over to your house, you cannot go to the respondent’s house, you cannot go with or meet the respondent for dinner. You cannot socialize with the respondent on any occasion, including birthdays & holidays. Additionally, you cannot intentionally appear at a location where you know this person will be, with the intent of then claiming a violation of the PPO. If you disregard or try to get around any of the Court’s no-contact provisions you could even be found in contempt of court. A PPO can provide you with security during troubled times. But it should not be abused or ignored.

 

6. ANSWERING OTHER QUESTIONS

If you have any questions concerning personal protection orders, the Victim Witness Unit of the Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office can be of assistance and can aid you in obtaining and enforcing a personal protection order in appropriate situations. The Victim Witness Unit can be reached at (231) 724-6676.

 

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