A recent tragedy involved the murder-suicide of a married couple with the husband taking his wife’s life and then his own, leaving behind a 14 year old son1. After several disputes and altercations between the couple, the husband shot his wife in an intersection as she was going to visit a family member just a few blocks away. The wife had filed a protective order that morning, and had called to notify him of her filing.
Under Indiana Civil Protective Order Act, the purpose of these laws in Indiana is for the protection and safety of all victims of domestic or family violence in a fair, prompt, and effective manner and prevention of future domestic and family violence2.
A person can petition for an Order of Protection against a family or household member who has committed an act of domestic or family violence or has committed stalking or a sex offense against the petitioner3. A petition can be granted ex parte (without a hearing), or a hearing can be set in order to determine if a Protective Order shall be issued.
However, as with the case above, Protective Orders do not immediately solve all problems. They are a safeguard and can be of great assistance, but they cannot necessarily prevent or deter all acts of violence. Making a strong record against a person who is committing acts of domestic or family violence, stalking, or committing sex offenses and getting away from the person may help alert law enforcement to the severity of the matter, or may be helpful in Court to address the violence.
In the case above, husband had been violent toward his wife and threatened her on several occasions. In one instance, wife did not call the police, but a witness did, as the two were arguing. Another time, husband shot his gun in the air and threatened to kill wife. Wife did not press charges in these instances. Husband did not serve more than a few days in jail for all of the incidents4. In his last confrontation of his wife, husband shot and killed her and then himself.
Ultimately, safety is a number one priority, and a Protective Order, while a positive step in the right direction, cannot stop a bullet or knife. Making a record, staying away from the aggressor and having a safety plan, and keeping track of violence as a victim or a witness can help law enforcement and Courts prevent violence against victims.
We hope that this blog post has been helpful in exploring Protective Orders and making a strong record and safety plan. This blog is not intended as legal advice. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. practices throughout the state of Indiana. This post was written by attorney, Jessica Keyes.