Everything You Need to Know About TPO in Georgia

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Do you need help in applying for a TPO in Georgia? Farnsworth & Murphy, LLC can walk you through the process. Book a free consultation call now.

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What Is a Temporary Protective Order in Georgia? 

A temporary protective order (TPO) is a document that offers legal protection to victims. If someone gets a TPO against you, you may get in trouble for contacting them. That is why it is not uncommon for bitter ex-lovers to get a TPO to frustrate your life.

A TPO can be more than an inconvenience, especially when you have been falsely accused. It can cause significant problems. Your reputation may suffer a lasting blow once you are labeled abusive. As an alleged abuser, you may not see your children and be restricted from entering your home. 

Most TPOs are granted before a court hearing. By the time you are declared innocent, your future may have suffered unrepairable damage. Therefore, you should fight against temporary protective orders before they cause harm. 

If you need to contest a TPO, we can help. Read on for more information about TPO laws, and learn how our criminal defense attorney can help you throughout the TPO process.

How TPOs Work

To request a TPO, the alleged victim needs to fill out a form at the police station. For example, they could apply for a TPO after accusing you of domestic violence. Even if you are already in custody, the court may grant your accuser an ex parte protective order. Your accuser can choose to be present to explain to the judge their grounds for requesting the TPO. However, their attorney may also represent them if they cannot attend court.

Within 24 hours after it is issued, you will be served a copy of the TPO. A temporary protective order may last up to the date of your full hearing or longer. If you are issued a temporary protective order or restraining order, it may order you to:

  • Avoid direct or indirect contact with your accuser

  • Give temporary custody of minor children

  • To receive psychological services 

  • Pay costs and attorney’s fees to the other party

The conditions of a TPO may need to be clarified. Do not forget that the penalties for breaking a restraining order are harsh. So, do not hesitate to talk to a criminal defense attorney at Farnsworth & Murphy, LLC, when you are facing a TPO.

Types of Georgia Temporary Protective Orders

Three types of temporary protective orders may be issued against you.

Family Violence Protective Orders

A person can apply for a family violence protective order after accusing you of domestic violence. According to the Family Violence Act, family refers to:

  • People who are living in the same household

  • People who have lived in the same household in the past

  • Foster children and foster parents

  • Past or present spouses

  • Parents of the same child

If you face domestic violence charges, your freedom may be in jeopardy. If a house member filed a petition for a family violence order in Georgia, you might be unable to return home.

A family violence protection order may last up to three years, but the court may extend it. Your accuser can file another petition to amend or terminate a Georgia TPO before its expiration date.

Stalking Protective Orders 

If you follow or surveil them, someone could accuse you of stalking. Contacting them through postal delivery or digitally could also result in a stalking charge. If they can show that you are stalking and harassing them, they could apply for a restraining order and get it.

Employer Protective Orders

An employer could apply for this TPO on behalf of their employee. Then, if you show up at their place of work, you would be violating the restraining order and suffer the accompanying penalties.

Penalties for Violating Temporary Protective Orders

Police officers treat TPO violations seriously. You may be arrested, charged, and convicted for violating temporary protective orders. You may face between one year and ten years in jail. You could also pay up to $10,000 in fines.

You could be looking at other criminal charges in addition to TPO violation. If the person who has the TPO is injured, you may be looking at aggravated assault or family violence battery.

Other Consequences

A temporary restraining order does not show up in background checks. But if you commit a crime that is connected to a TPO, it will show in background checks. That could impact your ability to work. Employers may not be willing to give you a job if you have a history of violence.

Former spouses may request a TPO to have an upper hand in a custody battle. Courts are concerned about the welfare of minor children. So, you could lose the case because you are seen as abusive.

How to Contest a TPO in Georgia

Fighting a TPO is one way to avoid the consequences discussed above. You can fight a TPO by filing:

  • An application opposing the TPO. You can do this before the court that granted the TPO.

  • A motion to dissolve or modify the protective order. You can do this if the terms are too broad.

  • An appeal. You can petition for a temporary protective order at the Superior Court if your accuser requests an extended protective order and it is granted. 

In each scenario, you may need evidence that supports your request. As Atlanta criminal defense attorneys, we can help you gather evidence and prepare for the bench trial.

What Is the Burden of Proof for a TPO in Georgia?

The burden of proof for a TPO in Georgia is “preponderance of evidence.” This means that the petitioner must demonstrate that it is more likely than not that the alleged behavior occurred and that it necessitates a protective order.

To elaborate:

  • Preponderance of the Evidence: This is a lower standard of proof than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is used in criminal trials. The petitioner must show that there is a greater than 50% chance that their claims are true.

  • Nature of Evidence: Evidence can include testimony, documents, photographs, text messages, emails, and other forms of proof that support the petitioner’s claims of being subjected to acts of violence, stalking, harassment, or other behaviors that would justify the issuance of a TPO.

  • Hearing and Testimony: Both the petitioner and the respondent (the person against whom the order is sought) have the opportunity to present their case in a hearing. This includes presenting evidence and possibly witness testimony.

  • Legal Representation: Both parties have the right to be represented by an attorney. Legal counsel can help in presenting evidence and arguing the case effectively.

  • Judge’s Decision: After reviewing the evidence and hearing arguments from both sides, the judge will decide whether to grant the TPO based on the standard of the preponderance of the evidence. If granted, the TPO will remain in effect for a certain period, usually between one to three years. The judge may also include conditions and restrictions on the respondent, such as staying away from the petitioner’s home or workplace.

  • Appeals: If the TPO is granted, the respondent has the right to appeal the decision. This can be done at the Superior Court, and it may involve a full hearing with both parties presenting their case again.

Facing a TPO in Georgia? Contact Farnsworth & Murphy LLC

It is easy for past or present spouses to hide behind the Family Violence Act. They may be seeking retaliation or a means to control you. You may not know what they are capable of once they obtain a temporary protective order against you. 

Unfortunately for the accused, the court of public opinion often favors alleged victims. That means your reputation may suffer before the hearing and conviction process starts.

At Farnsworth & Murphy LLC, we believe in ensuring your side of the story is heard. We are ready to fight against the temporary restraining order that could be ruining your life. 

We work tirelessly, interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence. We present character witnesses who may be able to weaken the charges. We offer you guidance every step of the way so that you can get as favorable of a result as possible.

You are not alone in this fight. Contact us today and work with criminal defense attorneys who go the extra mile for you.

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Call Farnsworth & Murphy LLC at 470-601-7056 or fill out our easy-to-use online form to get in touch and schedule a free initial consultation.

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