What Are The Forms Of Legal Protection From Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, And Stalking Available To Me In Tennessee?
Too often, the difficult decision to divorce is only made after you or a family member has experienced some form of abuse. If you or a loved one is living with domestic violence, experiencing a stalker, or has suffered a sexual assault, there are legal forms of protection you can pursue under Tennessee law. A Tennessee Protection Order operates as a restraining order and offers holders certain protections under civil law. Below we will discuss the different kinds of protective orders and who may pursue them.
What is a Protection Order?
A Protection Order operates as a restraining order. It is an order signed by a judge that restricts the actions of another person who has been acting in a harmful manner. Specifically, protection orders are granted for victims of:
- Domestic abuse committed by a family member or cohabitant, prior family member or cohabitant, or someone you are dating/used to date;
- Sexual assault committed by any person, and/or
- Stalking committed by any person
What is the Legal Definition of Domestic Abuse?
To be granted a protection order on the basis of domestic abuse, a victim must allege, and have the court find, that the accused abuser has done one of the following things to the person seeking the order/a child of a covered relationship:
- Physically harmed you, attempted to physically harm you, or puts you in fear of physical harm;
- Physically confined your movements (such as physically stopping you from being able to leave a room
- Destroys or damages your property
Harms, attempts to harm, or puts you or a minor child in fear that they will harm an animal owned, possessed, or otherwise held/kept by your or a minor child
What is the Legal Definition of Sexual Assault?
Alternatively, you may seek an order of protection if you have suffered a sexual assault. The court will recognize a sexual assault has occurred if someone has committed, threatened to commit, or put you in fear that they will commit, any one of the following:
- Aggravated rape
- Statutory rape
- Aggravated Statutory rape
- Mitigated statutory rape
- Rape of a child
- Sexual battery
- Authority figure sexual battery
- Aggravated sexual battery
What is the Legal Definition of Stalking?
In Tennessee, a court will find an incidence of stalking if someone repeatedly harasses you and you have a reasonable response of terror, fright, intimidation, or feeling harassed, threatened, or molested (bothered).
The court recognizes “Harassment” as one person contacting another without that person’s consent in a way that causes the victim emotional distress. This can be accomplished through various actions, such as
- Following you
- Contacting you via phone or email
- Coming to your home or property uninvited
- Sending items to your property,
What are the Types of Protection Order?
If the court finds that you are a victim of one of the above, it may grant either a temporary or extended protection order.
Temporary Protection Orders
These orders are issued if the court believes there is an immediate and present danger of abuse. This is a short-term order (lasting 15 days/until a full hearing for an extended protection order) meant to protect the victim until they are granted an extended protection order
Extended Protection Orders
An extended protection order is issued only after a full court hearing where both sides are given the opportunity to speak. These protection orders typically last up to one year and can be extended for additional one-year periods. There is, however, an exception, and the court may grant a lifetime order of protection if the abuser is convicted of a certain felony crime against the victim such as assault, sexual assault, or kidnapping.
Reach Out to Us Today for Help
The experienced attorneys at Fort, Holloway & Rogers know that the need for competent and effective counsel is never so important as when you are pursuing your safety, or that of a loved one. If you or a loved one is seeking to get a Protection Order, hiring an attorney to fight on your behalf can help tremendously. Contact one of our knowledgeable Franklin family lawyers today for a confidential consultation.