Orders of Protection and domestic abuse
In Tennessee, a person who has been subjected to domestic abuse can seek an Order of Protection from the Court prohibiting the abuser from having any contact with them. This is called a “no contact order” and prohibits any kind of contact whatsoever, including coming about the person, telephoning, e-mailing, texting, writing letters or the use of third party intermediaries. Tennessee Code Annotated 36-3-601 et seq.
To initiate an Order of Protection the victim files a Petition for Order of Protection in the Court and the Court will issue a temporary ex-parte Order of Protection until such time as the defendant can be served and a hearing held in Court. At the hearing, the petitioner will present their case and the Court will determine if the evidence presented is sufficient to make a finding that the defendant committed domestic abuse. If the court finds that the defendant committed domestic abuse then they will issue an Order of Protection.
A “no contact” Order of Protection offers significant protection to the victim because the police can arrest the abuser if they even come around the victim or try to contact them. A violation of the Order of Protection can result in ten (10) days in jail for the offender for each violation. For example, if a “no contact” Order of Protection is in effect, if the offender tried to call the victim twice and sent the victim a text message, that is three (3) violations and the offender could be sentenced to 30 days in jail.
In Knox County, Tennessee, most Orders of Protection are filed in the Fourth Circuit Court. The Fourth Circuit Court has streamlined the process and turned it into somewhat of a cottage industry. The Court staff will provide the necessary paperwork for the victim to fill out. On certain days the Court handles only Orders of Protection and has significant resources available to victims including advocates from various domestic violence organizations and volunteer legal counsel to assist the victims in prosecuting their cases.