Personal Protection Order (PPO)
What is a Personal Protection Order (PPO)?
A Personal Protection Order (PPO) is a Circuit Court injunctive order that protects victims of family (domestic) violence, dating violence or stalking. A person called the “petitioner” or “plaintiff” may file a complaint with the Circuit Court against the “respondent” or “defendant” to stop or restrain the respondent from doing things such as:
- contacting the petitioner through any means (in person, by phone, by mail, or e-mail, etc.
- entering upon the petitioner’s property or work place
- assaulting, attacking, beating or wounding the petitioner
- harassing, stalking or threatening the petitioner
- removing any minor children from where they live unless their removal is part of court-ordered visitation
- interfering with the petitioner’s efforts to remove his/her children or property
- purchasing or possessing a firearm
- Who can get a PPO?
- Where can I get a PPO?
- How do I get a PPO?
- I don’t think it is safe for me to wait for a hearing. Can I get a PPO right away, or do I have to wait for a hearing?
- After the judge signs the PPO, what happens next?
- What happens after the respondent is served with the PPO?
- When does the PPO go into effect?
- What if the respondent violates the PPO?
- What if the respondent is not arrested for violating the PPO?
- What is the Prosecuting Attorney’s role in PPO contempt hearings?
- What can I do to help “make a case” for a PPO violation?
- Can a respondent be charged with both a PPO violation and a separate criminal offense for the same behavior?
- What if I resume contact with the respondent after the PPO has been issued?
- How do I dismiss the PPO? How do I change the terms of the PPO?
- How is a PPO different from a “no-contact” bond condition?
1. Anyone who has been physically, emotionally, or sexually abused by a current or former spouse, a family member, a domestic partner, the other parent of your child, a current or former roommate, or a current or former person in a dating relationship. This is called a “domestic PPO”.
2. Anyone who has been “stalked” – repeatedly harassed to the point of being terrorized, intimidated, or threatened. This is called a “stalking PPO”.
A “do-it-yourself” PPO packet, containing instructions and necessary forms, is available at the County Clerk’s office in the Emmet County Building. There are different forms, depending on the type of PPO you are seeking (a “domestic” PPO versus a “stalking” PPO). You can also contact an attorney to prepare the documents for you.
Once you have the instructions and the forms, you must fill out the forms exactly as the instructions state. Probably the most important part of the complaint form is to state the facts as to why you need a PPO. When filling out the form, put down what your relationship is with the respondent and, in detail, what has happened that has caused you to feel you need to be protected by a PPO. The forms give you very little room to include facts but you can attach additional pages. Include detailed facts to support your need for a PPO!
If you can support the facts with evidence, do so! Attach documents supporting your facts, such as police reports, medical records, photographs, records from social agencies, affidavits from witnesses to the events you are describing in your complaint, etc.
It is also helpful if you have descriptive information about the respondent, such as full name, date of birth, home address, place of employment, social security number, driver’s license number, height, weight, hair color, eye color, scars or tattoos, etc.
Once you have completed the forms, you may need to take them to the judge’s office right away. You will be directed by the county clerk staff as to where this is. If you are seeking an “ex parte” (emergency) order (see next question), you will have to meet with the judge as soon as the judge is available. However, if it is not an “ex parte” order, then the complaint must be served on the respondent and a hearing set by the court.
I don’t think it is safe for me to wait for a hearing. Can I get a PPO right away, or do I have to wait for a hearing?
If you are in immediate danger, you may request an “ex parte” order, which will take effect immediately without a hearing and without advanced notice to the respondent. If you want an ex parte order, you must convince the judge with specific facts contained in your complaint that you are in danger of “immediate and irreparable injury, harm or danger” if the PPO is not issued. The judge will review your petition and decide if a PPO should be issued right away or if you need to serve the complaint on the respondent and have a hearing set by the court.
YOU are responsible for seeing that the respondent is served with the PPO. Anyone over the age of 18, other than you, can serve the respondent. Usually a deputy sheriff or a process server can serve the papers on the respondent. There are also other methods of “service” of papers that are allowed by law. You should consult with an attorney about these methods.
Once the respondent is served with the PPO, you must file a “proof of service” with the county clerk that the complaint for a PPO and the PPO order have been served on the respondent. There are forms in your packet for this. The proof of service requires information on the date, time, and place where the PPO was served, and the name of person who served the PPO.
A PPO goes into effect as soon as the judge signs it, but a PPO is enforceable against the respondent only after it has been served on him/her. The county clerk is responsible for providing a copy of the PPO and the proof of service to the local police agency that can enter the order into the Law Enforcement Information Network (L.E.I.N.). It is advisable for you to carry a copy of your PPO at all times, so that a police officer can quickly confirm the terms of the order if the respondent commits a violation.
Call 9-1-1. A police officer can respond and investigate. If the police officer believes that he/she has reasonable cause to believe that the respondent violated the PPO, the police officer may arrest the respondent on the spot. If the respondent has left the scene before the police get there, the police may still arrest the respondent if they find him/her.
The police may arrest the respondent if they believe that a violation of the PPO has occurred and the respondent was previously served with a copy of the PPO. The police are encouraged to make an arrest if they have evidence of a PPO violation, but they have discretion to arrest or not arrest.
If an arrest is made, the respondent will have to appear before the circuit court judge. At that time, the judge can set a bond for the person’s release. If posted, the respondent is released until a contempt hearing on the violation is held. If the respondent denies that he violated the PPO, the court will set a hearing to take testimony from witnesses regarding the alleged violation. The prosecutor’s office may be involved in this hearing (see below).
As stated earlier, the police have the discretion to arrest or not arrest. If they do not arrest the respondent, you will have to file a “motion to show cause” with the circuit court to have a hearing about the PPO violation. A “show cause” hearing focuses on whether the respondent should be held in contempt of court for violating the PPO. This motion, like the original complaint, needs to document what the respondent did or said, as well as supporting witness statements, police reports, photographs, etc.
If the judge believes that a violation may have occurred, he/she may schedule a show cause hearing and will issue a show cause order directing the respondent to appear in Court to answer the allegations that he/she violated the PPO. If the respondent denies that he violated the PPO, the court will set a hearing to take testimony from witnesses regarding the alleged violation. The prosecutor’s office may be involved in this hearing (see below).
If the respondent is arrested for a PPO violation or the Court directs the prosecutor to do so, the prosecuting attorney must prosecute the PPO, unless the petitioner retains his or her own attorney for this purpose. The prosecutor may present witnesses at a contempt hearing. The prosecutor may ask the judge to dismiss the contempt hearing if the prosecutor does not believe that there is enough evidence to prove the violation.
Call 9-1-1 right away! Preserve all available evidence of the PPO violation, such as notes or letters, answering machine messages, caller ID numbers, etc. Keep written notes of what, when and where the violations happened, what was said and done, who else may have seen or heard the respondent’s conduct, etc. Take photographs of property damage and/or physical injuries. Give all of these to the police or the prosecutor.
Can a respondent be charged with both a PPO violation and a separate criminal offense for the same behavior?
Yes. Michigan law clearly allows for criminal sanctions for a PPO violation to be imposed in addition to any criminal penalties for a crime that also occurred.
As an Order of the court, the PPO is directed to the respondent’s behavior. Regardless of the petitioner’s wishes for contact, the respondent will have violated the court’s Order and can be arrested for violating the terms of the Order. The petitioner’s invitation or consent for contact may mitigate sanctions, but it is no defense to the violation.
A petitioner should not “send the wrong signals” to the respondent by actually or seemingly allowing contact that violates the PPO. The PPO means what the Order says and applies when the Order says, not just when it is “convenient” to the petitioner for the terms to apply. If you do not want or need the PPO in effect anymore, move to have it set aside or modify it (see below).
Once the court has issued a PPO, only the court can change the PPO. The parties cannot do it privately or informally if you decide you want to have contact. If you decide you don’t want the PPO in effect anymore or if you want to change its terms to allow some forms of contact but not other forms, either you or the respondent must file a motion with the court to end or change the Order. A legal form to do this is available at the county clerk’s office.
The respondent may move to modify or rescind (dismiss) the PPO within 14 days after being served with it, or for good cause shown at a later date. The court must then hold a hearing to see if the PPO should be modified or dismissed.
Most PPOs expire after six months or one year. If you believe you need to keep the PPO in effect after the ending date stated in your PPO, you will need to file a motion with the court before the expiration of the Order to extend the PPO.
A “no-contact” bond condition is imposed on a defendant in a pending criminal case, usually involving an assaultive crime or domestic violence. That is done as part of the criminal case and is treated separately from a PPO.
A “no-contact” bond condition means that the defendant cannot call, write, have a third party contact, or themselves physically contact the victim or any other person with whom the judge orders the defendant to have no contact. It is generally a condition of being released on bond while the criminal case is pending. Only the judge can change this bond condition if it has been ordered.
Like other bond conditions, a violation of a “no-contact” provision could cause the judge to revoke the bond or raise the bond amount, in which case the defendant would remain in jail until the case is finished or the new, higher bond amount is put up.