Any time you are in a scary situation, you have to be able to rely on the law to help protect you. This is especially true when you are at risk of domestic violence.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, you can take some steps to help ensure your safety, including getting a DV order of protection.
These orders are heard by a hearing officer in the local family court and can be sought if the parties involved are considered “household members.” However, the person does not have to be currently living with you in order to qualify as a household member; you just have to have had a dating or continuing relationship with them. Common household members for the purposes of this order in New Mexico include former spouses, current spouses, in-laws, family members, partners and more.
What Do DV Orders of Protection Do?
Generally, these types of orders will forbid someone from engaging in certain behaviors, such as calling you on the phone, emailing you, texting you or being within so many feet of you, as stated on the order. This order is granted by the hearing officer when they believe the person you’re asking for the order against poses a real threat to you.
A DV order of protection is most often granted for domestic violence, harm to a minor/child abuse, harassment and stalking, mental or physical abuse, and assault.
Getting a DV Order of Protection
You will have to complete some steps to receive this order from the court. First, you will have to complete and file for a temporary order of protection with the court. Your petition should state that the person you’re seeking the order against committed an act of domestic violence against you, a household member, which resulted in one or more of the following:
• Harm (physical or threatened)
• Stalking, including repeated passes by your home or workplace
• Criminal trespass
• Criminal property damage
• A threat that causes you to fear physical injury
• Bodily assault or injury
• Severe emotional distress
Once you submit your petition, the domestic violence commissioner will review it and determine whether it shows one of the many acts that can be considered domestic abuse. If the commissioner confirms it does, they will issue a Temporary Domestic Violence Order of Protection and they will set a hearing date. At this hearing, the person you are seeking an order against can argue the act of domestic violence you put on the petition never happened. In this case, the “burden of proof” is on you as the person asking for the order; you have to show the action did occur.
If you do receive the order from the court, it is aimed at stopping the person from committing acts of domestic violence against you. Should your abuser violate the order, you can have them arrested by the police. Keep in mind that contact by phone, text or email is also considered a violation of this order; you do not need to wait to call for help until the person is at your home or work. Keep any evidence you have, such as phone records, to show you were contacted by the person the order is against.
Having an experienced attorney on your side during the DV Order of Protection process, from petition to hearing, can help make the experience less stressful. Your attorney will be able to help present your case to the hearing officer, and they will also help you gather the evidence needed to get the order. Since an attorney knows the rules and requirements of the court system, they are better positioned to present your case.