Victims of domestic violence and/or stalking can request the court to issue a Protective Order against their assailant. If a court does issue a Protective Order, how does that piece of paper in practice serve to protect the victim from any further violence or stalking?
There are countless statistics and stories of persons who were either denied a Protective Order against a perpetrator, or who had a Protective Order in place, that ultimately were hurt or otherwise by the person the Protective Order was to protect the victim against. In an effort to minimize crimes and the danger to victims who have a Protective Order in place, Indiana has implemented a state wide system through the State Police and FBI National Crime Center to notify local police of the existence of a Protective Order.
In Indiana, once a court issues the Protective Order, within minutes, it is entered electronically into the State Police’s Indiana Date and Communication System (IDACS), and the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC). Additionally, a notification that a Protective Order was issued is faxed or emailed to the local law enforcement agency where both the victim, and the perpetrator live and work.
How does this system of notification help protect the victims? If local law enforcement is on notice that certain persons have a history of violence, stalking, or some other potential danger is present, the local law enforcement can proactively react and protect victims. Additionally, should the need arise, if the police are called to a potential domestic disturbance, or otherwise, the police are attuned, even before arriving to the scene, that a Protective Order is in place. Moreover, police may be more effective responders to a call if they are aware, at the click of a button that a Protective Order is in place. The goal is to decrease the danger or crimes that can occur after a Protective Order has been issued.
Ultimately, the historical problem with Protective Orders is that they are simply a piece of paper. A perpetrator, if so inclined, will continue to pursue a victim, unless there is law enforcement intervention. By notifying law enforcement promptly, as well as making the information available easily, law enforcement can better protect victims from future violence—before a matter escalates and the perpetrator or victim are injured—protecting everyone!
We hope that this blog has been helpful in understanding how courts communicate with law enforcement when Protective Orders are issued. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. practices throughout the state of Indiana. This blog was written by attorney, Lori Schmeltzer.