Experienced Nashville Defense Firm

Do I Need a Lawyer for an Order of Protection Matter?

What Is a Tennessee Order of Protection?

If a person believes you have abused, stalked, or sexually assaulted them, they could seek to have a court issue an order of protection against you. In Nashville, TN, most petitions for orders of protection are originally filed in Davidson County General Sessions Courts.

Before the request is granted, you will be scheduled for a hearing. During the proceeding, you and the petitioner will have a chance to tell your sides of the story. Because the judge will consider and make a decision based on the evidence presented, it’s crucial to build a compelling case.

Do You Need a Criminal Defense Attorney to Fight an Order of Protection?

You might think you can represent yourself. Surely the judge will believe your side of the story and dismiss the order of protection. Unfortunately, that assumption may not be correct. Making a persuasive argument that tells why the petitioner’s request should not be granted takes skill and experience.

That’s why it’s vital to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side who knows how this process works. They can advise you and can help develop and present your side of the story.

In another scenario, you might decide to go to court and agree to the order of protection. Doing so is a judicial admission that the facts were true. Thus, the court will issue the order, and you may be subject to various limitations.

What Are the Rules of an Order of Protection in Tennessee?

If you have an order of protection issued against you, you:

  • Will be ordered not to contact the petitioner in any way – either directly or indirectly
  • Will instantly lose your right to possess or carry a firearm
  • Will have a permanent record branding you as a person who commits domestic violence
  • May be prohibited from staying in a home you share with the petitioner
  • May be ordered to pay child support

How Long Does an Order of Protection Last in TN?

Tennessee allows for an Order of Protection to be in effect for up to one year. However, this time period can be extended in cases where the order is violated.

If the Order of Protection is violated, the order can be extended for up to five years. If the order is violated a second time, it can be extended to ten years.

Appealing an Order of Protection

If you agreed to an order of protection or one has been issued against you, you may be able to appeal. However, you must file an appeal from the Tennessee General Sessions Court within 10 days of the order. Failure to do so will make the order final.

T.C.A. § 36-3-601 (3)(f)

On June 28, 2020, the Tennessee Supreme Court affirmed the 10-day window in which to file an appeal. In New v. Dumitrache, a 10-hour hearing on an order of protection was held.

The order of protection was granted. Mr. New failed to file his appeal to the Circuit court or Chancery court within 10 days. Rather, he waited 42 days to file a pleading titled, in part, “An Appeal in Nature of Writ of Error.”

Mr. New’s appeal failed. The court relied on T.C.A. § 36-3-601 (3)(f), which states that an appeal shall be filed within 10 days. If an appeal is not filed within that time, the General Sessions Court’s order becomes final. The Circuit court or Chancery court lack subject matter jurisdiction over the untimely appeal.

Key Takeaways Regarding Orders of Protection Matters

If you may be subject to an order of protection, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Hire a lawyer who is experienced in handling orders of protection.
  • File an appeal immediately. You can always dismiss it later.

For the legal help you need defending or appealing your case, reach out to May McKinney by calling (615) 265-6383 or contacting us online. Our Nashville defense attorneys have nearly 80 years of combined experience and know how to handle these matters.