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In Iowa there are two types of orders, criminal protective orders and civil protective orders. Criminal protective orders are only used in criminal court proceedings involving people accused of domestic violence that have not yet had their trials occur. Individuals cannot seek to have a criminal protective order issued on their own. Civil protection orders are available for individuals who are concerned that they could be abused.  

In this article, we discuss recent changes to Iowa Orders Of Protection, Restraining Order, Filing A Restraining Order, and Domestic Violence In Iowa.

What is a restraining order/order of protection?

There are no traditional “restraining orders” in Iowa that can be broadly filed against those who have harassed you. Generally speaking, protective orders are limited to victims of domestic violence.

In Iowa there are two types of orders, criminal protective orders and civil protective orders. Criminal protective orders are only used in criminal court proceedings involving people accused of domestic violence that have not yet had their trials occur. Individuals cannot seek to have a criminal protective order issued on their own. Civil protection orders are available for individuals who are concerned that they could be abused.  

Civil protection orders in Iowa are court orders that demands the abuser stays away from victims of violence. In Iowa, unlike most states, civil protection orders are only available for victims of domestic abuse or children who have been abused.  

What is domestic abuse in Iowa?

Domestic abuse is a broadly defined term in Iowa, covering assaults between individuals in a domestic relationship. Assault can include physical violence (hitting, punching, kicking, forced sexual acts, or any other physical harm). This also includes threatening victims with weapons as well as verbal threats combined with a reasonable belief that the individual could carry out the threat.  

How do a file a civil protection order?

A person looking to file a civil protection order must file a petition with the Clerk of Court. The petition will cover what type of abuse happened recently or in the past, what the relationship was between the victim and the abuser and, finally, whether the parties have children. There is no cost to file the petition.

Once the petition is filed, it will be reviewed by a judge. The judge will take the information within the petition to determine whether the factors have been met to issue a temporary protection order.  

If the judge orders a temporary protection order, this will require the abuser to not have any further contact with the victim until the hearing. The hearing will typically be set between 7 and 15 days from the time the petition was filed. If children are involved, the order will likely include protections for them too. A copy of the temporary order will be given to the victim and to the sheriff’s department to serve on the abuser. It will be effective as soon as the order is served and will last until the judge hears the case.  

If the temporary order isn’t granted the judge will still set a hearing for the case. The alleged abuser will be served with a notice with the date of the hearing. At the hearing, the judge will decide whether a protection order should be issued.

What will happen at the civil protection order hearing?

There are a number of different scenarios that could happen depending on the circumstances.  

If the abuser does not show up to the hearing, the judge may grant a protection order to the victim without taking any testimony or having the alleged abuser defend the claims made by the victim. The judge may want the victim to testify on the record even if the abuser does not show up.  

If the abuser does show up to the hearing and agrees to stay away from the victim, this is called a consent agreement. A consent agreement protection order will require both the victim and abuser to agree on terms. Should they not agree, the judge will need to hear testimony and make a decision for the parties. Otherwise, no testimony will be necessary. The victim does not have to consent to the order, though they have the right to be heard on what they believe the order should cover. The advantage to a victim agreeing to a consent agreement is that they are guaranteed to get a protection order. The advantage to the abuser is that the judge does not make a specific finding that the domestic abuse has been committed.  

If the abuser refutes that the abuse happened, the judge will have a hearing. The victim will testify and provide evidence showing the abuse has happened. The victim has the burden to prove that the abuser committed an assault or threatened the victim's safety. The victim will have to describe the abuse in their testimony and why the abuser makes them feel afraid. The victim can also use witness testimony or photos to explain the abuse. The abuser will also be able to testify and provide evidence at the hearing. After all evidence and testimony is heard, the judge will decide whether to grant the protection order. If the order is granted, it will last for one year.

Extensions, modifications and cancellations of protection orders

Extension

If the one year period is close to expiration and the victim still believes the abuser is a threat to them, the victim can request the court extend the order of protection for another year. The court will review the request and schedule a hearing. The abuser will be served notice and can attend the hearing. At the hearing, the judge will review the present threat of the abuser, often asking the victim to testify about what has happened during the first year of the protection order. In order for the judge to grant an extension, the judge must find that the abuser continues to pose a threat to the safety of the victim or the victim’s immediate family.

Modification

If a term of the protection order is causing any issues, the victim or abuser can file a form with the court to request a modification to the order. A hearing will be set and the abuser or victim (the party not filing for a modification) must be served with notice of the hearing. At the hearing, both parties will be able to testify about whether they want the order modified. The judge will make the final decision and rule on the modification.

Cancellation

If the victim does not want to have the protection order anymore, they can file a form with the court requesting for the protection order to be ended. Once the form is received by the court, it will be reviewed by a judge and a new court order will be issued stating that the protection order is  no longer in effect.  

What are the consequences for violating a civil protective order?

If an abuser violates the civil protective order, there are a number of consequences. Typically, the victim will have to bring up the violation with either the court or authorities. Violations can result in the abuser being arrested and charged with a simple misdemeanor. Additional punishments could include jail time, fines and requirements to make the violator pay the victims court costs and attorney fees.  

Posted 
April 16, 2021
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