What is a PPO?
A Personal Protection Order (aka PPO) is a court order which prohibits a person (the respondent) from engaging in a variety “harassing” behaviors that are aimed at another (the petitioner). A PPO may also stop someone from coming to the petitioner’s home or work place. It can stop them from buying a firearm or finding the petitioner’s address through school records. It can also stop them from taking a minor child unless required by the court. Most importantly, a PPO is a court order, the violation of which can result in jail time for the respondent. Here is a complete list of things a PPO can prohibit:
- Entering onto premises
- Assaulting, attacking, beating, molesting, or wounding a named individual.
- Threatening to kill or physically injure a named individual
- Removing minor children from the individual having legal custody of the children, except as otherwise authorized by a custody or parenting time order issued by a court of competent jurisdiction
- Purchasing or possessing a firearm
- Interfering with petitioner’s efforts to remove petitioner’s children or personal property from premises that are solely owned or leased by the individual to be restrained or enjoined
- Interfering with petitioner at petitioner’s place of employment or education or engaging in conduct that impairs petitioner’s employment or educational relationship or environment
- Having access to information in records concerning a minor child of both petitioner and respondent that will inform respondent about the address or telephone number of petitioner and petitioner’s minor child or about petitioner’s employment address
- Engaging in conduct that is prohibited under section 411h or 411i of the Michigan penal code, 1931 PA 328, MCL 750.411h and 750.411i
- Any other specific act or conduct that imposes upon or interferes with personal liberty or that causes a reasonable apprehension of violence
If a PPO is granted, it will remain in effect for 182 days unless otherwise terminated by the court.
While not a conviction, when a PPO is issued, it will immediately be entered in the LEIN (Law Enforcement Information Network) system. Once there, it will be able to be found by members of law enforcement as well as any potential employer who is conducting a routine background check.
The petitioner is the person who files a request for a PPO. In order to obtain a PPO, the petitioner must allege that subject of the PPO has engaged in multiple instances of harassing behavior.
The respondent is the person against whom the PPO has been filed. Once the respondent has been personally served with a PPO, they have 14 days to file a response and request a hearing date.
How Can I Fight a PPO?
There are two ways that a court can grant a PPO. The first is as an ex parte order. This means that the court will grant the PPO without a hearing to allow the respondent to defend themselves against the claims in the petition. If the court enters the ex parte order, the respondent has 14 days – from the date of personal service of the PPO – to request a hearing to rescind the Order. The second way a court will grant a PPO is by having a full blown hearing before issuing the order. At both of these hearings the burden is on the petitioner to prove that the respondent has been engaging in harassing behavior.
The Nessel and Kessel Approach
At Nessel and Kessel Law, we have extensive experience defending our client against the ordering of a PPO (see two recent success stories here and here). Our approach includes getting a detailed history of the relationship between the petitioner and respondent as well as speaking with any necessary witnesses or other parties with crucial information. We will also gather phone records, emails, and any other documents that will help prove that you have not been engaged in any of the prohibited activities as outlined by the law.
At the hearing, the court will allow both sides to present their case, which includes allowing the attorneys to question the parties. Depending on the facts and their presentation, the court will also engage in its own cross-examination of the parties involved. The court’s questions will almost certainly be aimed at issues raised by the questioning of the lawyers.
Often times a petitioner will want a PPO issued simply because they are mad at someone, because they don’t want the respondent to have access to mutual children, or because there is a pending divorce and they want to use the legal system to their advantage. Whatever the reason, it’s important to remember that a PPO is a court order, the violation of which can result in jail time. A PPO may seem “routine”, but it is an incredibly serious matter that can interfere with school, work, and other activities. If you have been served with a PPO, you need experienced attorneys who can show the court that the petitioner’s allegations are false. Contact Nessel and Kessel Law today for a free consultation.