July 1st marks the enactment of sweeping changes to Virginia’s protective order laws! Victims of dating violence and domestic violence who are not married or living together will now have access to protective orders in Virginia. In addition, victims of sexual assault and stalking will be able to get a protective order without a criminal warrant. This is a huge victory for victims who have encountered a lot of barriers when trying to obtain protective orders in the past.
While these are welcomed changes because they expand options for victims throughout Virginia, many advocates and criminal justice professionals have a lot of questions and requested new resources that offer up-to-date information about protective orders. In response, the Action Alliance has updated our Protective Orders in Virginia brochure, which can be accessed online at http://www.vsdvalliance.org/secPublications/PO%20Booklet-2011FINAL.pdf. We will be sending out the brochures to local programs in printed form starting next week.
This resource provides information and guidance on the two different types of protective orders available in Virginia, who can apply for which order (eligibility), how and where to apply for a protective order (access), what a protective order can do to help prevent further violence (relief available), and what to do if your order is violated and how law enforcement will respond (enforcement). In addition, it provides information about current law regarding minors and protective orders to help minors and/or their guardians understand the options available to them. Recognizing that not all same-sex relationships meet Virginia’s definition of “family and household member”, we have also included specific information and guidance for persons who identify as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and/or transgender when making a decision about seeking a protective order, including which what type of protective order and/or court may be most appropriate for them. A Spanish version of the brochure will be coming soon!
We hope that this resource will help people better understand protective orders in Virginia, including the recent changes in the law. We will also be hosting quarterly technical assistance calls for SDVAs to discuss the successes and challenges their communities are having as these laws take effect. The 1st two calls are scheduled for August 22nd at 10am and November 14th at 10am. More information on these calls will becoming soon!
The Action Alliance and local programs have received several press inquiries about the new law. The Action Alliance issued a press release earlier today (attached) and local programs and affiliates are welcome to use this as a resource to summarize the new law for local media. You may also contact Gena Boyle at email@example.com or at 804.377.0335 for help with responding to media requests.