Judges, prosecutors, and police officers in Missouri take domestic violence seriously. If you are charged with a crime of domestic violence or accused of violating a restraining order in this state, you will need legal help – at once – from a Jefferson County domestic violence attorney.

Every year in the United States, more than 300,000 women – and a growing number of men – go to doctors or emergency rooms for treatment after a domestic violence episode, and over a thousand women are killed in this nation each year in domestic violence-related homicides.

Furthermore, the United States spends more than $8 billion every year in medical and mental health services related to domestic violence incidents, and that sum does not include the considerable legal costs – the costs of domestic violence arrests, prosecutions, and sentences.

How does a restraining order work in Missouri? What can happen if you are accused of violating a restraining order? If you’ll keep reading, these questions will be answered, and if you’ve been charged with a domestic violence crime, you’ll learn where to find the legal help you may need.

What Are Orders of Protection in Missouri?

In this state, an “order of protection” is a restraining order that is issued by a civil court. It is a court order that requires someone to stay away from and entirely avoid any contact with one or more particular persons. The courts in Missouri issue two types of orders of protection.

Ex parte orders of protection may be granted on request, without a hearing and without an alleged abuser’s knowledge or presence in court. An ex parte order stays in effect until a hearing for a full protection order, which is usually scheduled within fourteen days of the ex parte order’s issuance.

If an ex parte order is requested but not granted, the judge may issue a “Notice of Hearing” for a full order of protection. To obtain a full protection order, the person requesting protection will need to prove his or her charges of domestic violence at a protection order hearing.

How Does the Protection Order Process Work?

However, if you are the alleged abuser and you do not appear at the protection order hearing, a full order of protection can be issued as the result of your failure to appear. If you are notified that a full order of protection has been issued, you will need a lawyer’s help to contest that order.

Full orders of protection are issued only after a hearing where both sides have been given an opportunity to tell their stories. If domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault can be proven to a judge’s satisfaction, a full protection order is issued. It stays in effect for 180 days to one year.

However, a full order of protection may also include a provision for the order’s automatic renewal. If it does, the order automatically renews unless the alleged abuser files an objection with the court and requests a hearing within thirty days of the protection order’s expiration.

If the full order of protection does not include a provision for its automatic renewal, an extension may be requested from the court. A hearing will be held on the extension request, and if the request is granted, the full order of protection may be extended for another 180 days to one year.

If You Are Served With a Protection Order

In Missouri, an alleged abuser who is served with a protection order needs to act quickly and contact a Missouri restraining order attorney at once.

Prior to a protection order hearing, either side may attempt to negotiate a resolution. If the parties are unable to reach a compromise, a hearing is conducted and evidence is presented by both sides. Witnesses may be examined and cross-examined by the attorneys for each side.

A Missouri court does not require overwhelming evidence of domestic abuse or “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” in order to grant a full order of protection. A judge must only be persuaded that the “preponderance of the evidence” points to the truth of the domestic violence accusation.

What If the Allegation Against You is Fabricated?

Domestic violence crimes are taken quite seriously by officials in this state for one inescapable reason – because if claims of domestic violence are not taken seriously, tragedy is the inevitable result. Domestic violence is a real and ever-present threat to thousands of families in Missouri.

However, an equally real and present threat is the misuse of protection orders and the possibility that a domestic violence allegation has been fabricated. If a domestic violence accusation against you has been fabricated, you must be represented by an attorney who can uncover the truth.

If there is no legitimate reason for a restraining order to be issued against you, get legal help at once. The right Missouri restraining order attorney will explain your rights and options, the legal issues that are involved, and the ramifications of having a restraining order issued against you.

What Are The Legal Consequences of a Restraining Order?

Even though an order of protection is issued by a Missouri court, federal law prevents anyone from owning, possessing, or purchasing a firearm or firearms ammunition while a full order of protection is in effect.

Violation of the statute is a federal offense. A conviction may be penalized with up to ten years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000.

Violation of an order of protection in Missouri is a Class A misdemeanor. A conviction may be penalized with up to a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.

If you violate a protection order a second time within five years of the first conviction, the violation is a Class E felony punishable upon conviction with up to four years in prison.

What Are the Extra-Legal Consequences of a Restraining Order?

Orders of protection, like all other legal proceedings, are matters of public record that are available to landlords, employers, creditors, and the public at large. Anyone can see that an order of protection was filed against you. For that to change, you will need an attorney’s help.

If a ex parte order or a full order of protection has been issued against you, or if you are charged with any crime of domestic violence in Missouri, protect your freedom and your future, and contact a Jefferson County domestic violence attorney as quickly as possible.