The Indiana Civil Protection Order Act1 was enacted to protect victims of domestic or family violence and promote the prevention of future domestic and family violence2. The Act allows victims to file for an order of protection against members of their own household who have committed domestic or family violence. The Act also allows victims to file for an order of protection against individuals who have committed stalking or a sex offense against the victim. When a victim of domestic or family violence files for a Protective Order, the Court is required to have a hearing or allow a hearing,3 allowing the victim and the alleged abuser to present evidence and testimony. But what happens if the Court does not let you present evidence or testimony? The Court of Appeals recently dealt with this issue in N.E. v. L.W.4 that is the topic of this blog post.
In N.E., the Wife filed a petition for a Protective Order against her Husband. Specifically, Wife alleged physical and verbal abuse occurring on several different occasions from December 2017 to August 2018. One such incident of abuse occurred in front of the parties’ 12-year-old grandson, which resulted in the grandson calling the police. The trial court refused to grant the Wife’s petition for a Protective Order ex parte and scheduled a trial. The trial court then refused to grant Wife’s petition for a Protective Order after learning that Husband was already subject to a no-contact order. Specifically, the trial court refused to allow Wife to present any evidence or testimony in support of a Protective Order. Instead, the trial court encouraged the Wife to seek out counsel and divorce Husband and to call the police if the Husband showed back up to the marital residence. Wife appealed.
On Appeal, the Court of Appeals started by discussing the adequacy of a hearing. There is a due process right to be heard generally in America. The Court, noting that trial courts have broad discretion in granting or denying the petition for a protective order, pointed out that certain minimum requirements must be met to find the hearing was adequate. Specifically, the Court stated that these minimum requirements include the opportunity to testify and cross-examine witnesses. The Court found that if these minimum requirements are not met, then the trial court erred. In conclusion, the Court also stated that “we remind the trial court that a protection order and a criminal no-contact order are not interchangeable and that a criminal no-contact order cannot provide Wife all the relief that a protection order can.” This is because these two orders stem from different legal proceedings and are aimed at protecting different rights.
Knowing the status of developments in the law is the key, as well as being an engaged citizen in our participatory system of government. This blog post on a key new case was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle protective order cases and appeals of protective orders throughout the state. Having a protective order issued against you has significant consequences from potentially being deprived of the right to bear arms, to loss of employment. Thus, having competent counsel defend you is critical. This blog is written for educational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice or a solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.