Protective Orders in Virginia for People with Disabilities

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By Taylor Easley (she/her), Minority Graduate Fellow in Public Health

In Virginia, it is important to ensure the safety and protection of people with disabilities from abuse or neglect. If someone with disabilities feels threatened or hurt by someone, they can get a protective order to prevent the person from contacting them. The protective orders law was established in Virginia in 1984. A person can get a family abuse protective order or a non-family abuse protective order. Once the person goes to court, a judge will sign a piece of paper prohibiting the threatening person from contacting them. It is crucial to note that a protective order does not equate to pressing charges against the abuser. It simply serves as a legal means of protection.

If you need a protective order, there are three types to consider. These orders have varying lengths of time that they last, depending on the type. An emergency protective order lasts only three days unless it’s a holiday weekend or the court is closed. Preliminary protective orders last fifteen days unless you have a date for the full protective order. Finally, a full protective order can last until the judge says it has expired but at least for two years. Going to court to get one of the protective orders does not necessarily mean you will have all three. Each time you need a different protective order, you must go to court again.

Virginia has many agencies that can help people with disabilities if they need help with protective orders. Here are just a few agencies:  Central Virginia Legal Aid Social, Resources for Independent Living Inc., Supreme Court of Virginia (I-CAN!Virginia), Virginia Ani-Violence Project, Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline, Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, Virginia Poverty Law Center (Family & Sexual Violence), Virginia State Bar’s Lawyer Referral System, and Virginia Victims Fund.

Over the years, Virginia has added to the protective order law and other related policies to ensure that people, especially people with disabilities, are free from abuse and neglect. With this law, people with disabilities can make sure that they are protected at all times. You can visit the Virginia Law website or this fact sheet to learn more about protective orders.