Protective Order Filing Information

Press Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next option

New protective order legislation, effective July 1, 2011, renamed “protective orders for stalking” as “protective orders” and expanded the class of persons eligible to obtain a protective order to include any act involving violence, force or threat that results in bodily injury or places one in reasonable apprehension of death, sexual assault or bodily injury.

Note:  The new legislation also removed the requirement that an arrest warrant be issued as a prerequisite to the issuance of a protective order.  Now, a protective order may be issued when a petitioner has been subjected to an act of violence, force or threat OR an arrest warrant has been issued.

1.  What are protective orders?

Protective Orders are legal documents issued by a judge or a magistrate with the intent to protect the health and safety of someone who has been injured or threatened by another person.  In Virginia, there are three kinds of protective orders that are intended to protect you and others:

• Emergency Protective Order – generally last only 72 hours and are usually issued by a magistrate but may be issued by a judge.
• Preliminary Protective Order – is temporary protection which lasts 15 days or until a full hearing and requires that you file a petition with the court.  PPO’s may be extended up to 6 months.
• Permanent Protective Order – a full protective order can be issued for up to two years where both parties have notice and the opportunity to be heard.

If you are under 18 years of age, this filing information does not apply to you.  Go to the Virginia’s Judicial System website at: and click on “online services,” then “assistance with Protective Orders (I-CAN!)”.  You can also call the Juvenile Domestic and Relations Court at (434)979-7165 with questions.  If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.  If this is a non-emergency question please call the police department at (434)970-3280 or the Magistrate’s Office at (434)977-0220.

2. Where is the Magistrate’s Office Located?

The Magistrate’s office is located in the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail at 160 Peregory Lane, Charlottesville, VA

You may go to the Magistrate’s office to obtain an Emergency Protective Order.  This order will last only 72 hours or until the next day court is in session.  If you need longer protection, you must ask the court for a Preliminary Protective Order.  The Magistrate’s Office is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

3. Where is the court located?

The Charlottesville General District Court is located at 606 East Market Street, Charlottesville, VA (434)970-3366 or (434)970-3386.

4. Is there anyone else I can talk to if I have questions or I am in fear of the person committing these acts?

The Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office has a Victim/Witness division with advocates who can assist you.  The court clerk can call an advocate to assist you when you arrive.  Victim/witness can also be reached at (434)970-3176.

Anonymous, Confidential, 24/7, V/TTY available, sexual assault/domestic violence hotline:

• Domestic Violence Coordinator (434)970-3511
• Shelter for Help in Emergency (434)293-8509
• Virginia Family Violence & Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-838-8238

5. If I file for a criminal warrant with the Magistrate’s Office, can I ask for an Emergency Protective Order?

Yes, this is typically done by the Magistrate and is in effect for 72 hours or until the next day court is in session.

6.  What do I do after obtaining an Emergency Protective Order?

If you need continued protection due to any act involving violence, force or threat that results in bodily injury or places you in fear of death, sexual assault or bodily injury, you may petition the court for a Preliminary Protective Order.  A Preliminary Protective Order is temporary protection which lasts 15 days or until a full hearing and requires that you file a petition with the court.  Preliminary Protection Orders may be extended for up to 6 months.

You must fill out the forms necessary to petition the court for a Preliminary Protective Order.  Upon request, the clerk’s office for the Charlottesville General District Court, located at 606 East Market Street, Charlottesville, VA will provide you with the correct forms to complete.

Additionally, the Supreme Court of Virginia has an online program, I-CAN!  Virginia.  This program can help you prepare the paperwork required to file for a Preliminary Protective Order.  I-CAN! Virginia is a free internet-based service that provides assistance with preparing a Petition for a Preliminary Protective Order forms.  This service is provided to the public as a convenience.  You are not required to visit the site prior to coming to the clerk’s office to request a Preliminary Protective Order.

To complete your petition for a Preliminary Protection Order through the Supreme Court of Virginia’s online forms program, I-CAN! Virginia.  Access Virginia’s Judicial System web site at: under the “online services” click on “Assistance With Protective Orders (I-CAN).” You can also do a keyword search using “Assistance with Protective Orders” from the homepage of I-CAN! Virginia can be accessed from any computer that has internet access and functions best with Internet Explorer.  A direct link to I-CAN! Virginia can be found at:  Please bring the completed forms or the passcode to the clerk’s office to complete this process.

If you are unable to use the I-CAN! Virginia program or do not understand how to fill out a Petition for a Preliminary Protective Order; go to the Charlottesville General District Court Clerk’s office and ask for help.  The court personnel will provide you with the necessary forms and information sheets to assist you; we are not able to give legal advice. 

7. Is there a filing fee?

No fee is required

8. What should I bring to court with me?

The court will need a full description of events that led you to seek a protective order.  If you used the I-CAN! Virginia online system, bring the affidavit (written statement describing the events) with you.  You will need this same information for the full hearing (where both parties are before the judge) that will be scheduled if a Preliminary Order is issued.  At the full hearing (where both parties are before the judge) the judge will inquire about the events that led you to seek a Protective Order.

The court will also need the name and full address of the person from whom you are seeking protection.  A full and complete address of the person is required, including apartment number or unit number.  This information is also needed to send to the Virginia State Police if the orders are issued.

9. Other important information you should bring with you.

Law enforcement will need as much identifying and contact information as possible about the person from whom you are seeking protection.  This information is essential as law enforcement must be able to find this person for the Protective Order to take effect. 
Please provide as much information as possible:

o Respondent’s name, address, any phone numbers
o Work place, phone and address
o Race, sex, date of birth, height, weight, eye color, hair color, social security number
o Any defining information – tattoos, scar
o Description of vehicle
o Where the alleged abuser can be found after 5pm
o Other places frequented by this person

Can you supply the items and/or have answers to these questions:
o Do you have a picture of this person that can be copied?
o Is this person in jail?  If yes, do you know which jail?
o Does this person own or carry firearms?
o Does this person have a concealed weapons permit?
o Does this person have a history of drug or alcohol abuse?
o Does this person have a history of mental illness?
o Is this person currently on medication for mental illness?
o Would you consider this person a threat to law enforcement officers?

10. What should I NOT bring to court with me?

All persons entering the courthouse will be searched by passing through a metal detector.  This search will include any bags you are carrying and anything in your pockets.  Weapons such as guns, ammunition, any items resembling a gun or ammo, handcuff key, all knives, razor blades, peppers spray, mace and tools are prohibited.  All photographic and sound recording devices including still cameras and video cameras are prohibited inside the courthouse.  Advise the clerk’s office if any of the above listed items are needed as evidence in your case.  If you have any additional questions you may contact the clerk’s office at (434)970-3388.

11. Who should I bring with me to court?

In order for the judge to issue a Preliminary Protective Order, you will need to appear before the judge to state the basis for your Petition for the Preliminary Protective Order or a Protective Order.  It is your choice to bring witnesses at this time.  However, you should bring the names and complete street addresses for any witnesses (people who actually saw the event take place) with you. 

You are discouraged from bringing young children with you to court.  If you must bring them, bring an adult to supervise the children.

12.  What are the hours to file a petition for a Preliminary Protective order or a Protective Order?

The clerk’s office opens at 8:30 a.m. and closes at 4:30 p.m.  It is suggested to arrive as early in the morning as possible in order to complete the paperwork and have the petition reviewed by the judge.

13. How long should I expect to spend at the courthouse in order to file the Petition for Preliminary Protective Order or a Protective Order and have the petition heard?

You should expect to spend at least a couple hours.  Arrive as early as possible and go directly to the Clerk’s Office.  At that time we can assist you by contacting the Victim/Witness Office associated with the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.

14. What should I do if I feel I am in immediate danger?

If you feel you are in immediate danger call 911 for law enforcement assistance.

15. What do I do if an Emergency Protective Order that was issued expires before I am able to have a petition for the Preliminary Protective Order filed and heard?

You may go to the Magistrate’s office and testify under oath as to why you were unable to petition for the Preliminary Protective Order and why a Protective Order is still necessary.  You will be asked to fill out a written statement (affidavit).  If you have any questions please call the Magistrate’s Office at (434)977-0220.

16. How do I contact the Magistrate’s Office for more information?

Magistrates are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and located at:  160 Peregory Lane, Charlottesville, VA 22901 – (434)977-0220

17. What should I do if I do not understand or speak English?

The court cannot guarantee an interpreter will be present to assist you.  We can utilize Interpretalk, which is a telephone interpreting service.  You are welcome to bring a family member or friend to accompany you that speaks English to assist you in the process.  For other languages the court will have to make arrangements or use Interpretalk.

I-CAN! Virginia is also available in Spanish.  Just follow the prompts when you begin the program at:

18. What if I have a physical disability?

The courtroom is ground level and the parking garage is located next door to the courtroom which has handicap spaces.  Please contact the clerk’s office if additional assistance is needed at (434)970-3388. 

For a hearing impaired or sign language interpreter, please call ahead at (434)970-3366 so we can make special arrangements. 

19. Do I need an attorney to file for a Preliminary Protective Order?

You do not need an attorney to file a Preliminary Protective Order.  The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, Victim/Witness Office or the Clerk’s Office can assist you in preparing the paperwork, but cannot provide legal advice.  If you would like to hire an attorney to represent you at your hearing where both parties are before the judge, you may do so.

20. What should I do if I am the person named as a “respondent” in a Preliminary Protective Order or Protective Order?

You will receive a copy of the order from the police department.  Read the order carefully.  Strict compliance with the order will avoid additional problems that can result in criminal penalties.  YOU MAY NOT POSSESS A FIREARM.

If you wish to have your side of the story heard it is important to appear in court.  Otherwise, the court may enter the Protective Order without hearing from you.  You may ask the court to dismiss or change the terms of the order.  ONLY A JUDGE many dismiss or change the terms.

The order will have a date and time for a hearing.  Arrive at the courthouse at least 30 minutes ahead of time.  You or your attorney will tell your side of the case at the hearing.  It is very important that you appear in court on the date provided on the Order.  If you do not respond, you are telling the court that you are not arguing against the petition.  Read the order very carefully.

21. What should I do at the hearing as the respondent?

When your name is called go to the front of the courtroom.  Only you and/or your attorney, if you hired one, can speak for you.  The judge will ask you questions.  Listen carefully, answer them completely, tell the truth and speak clearly.  The other person’s attorney may ask you questions.  Do not interrupt while anyone else is speaking.  If you have any questions or do not understand something, ask the judge before you leave the courtroom.

22. When does a Protective Order take effect?

A law enforcement officer will serve the Protective Order to the person from whom you want protection.  A Protective Order is not valid until that person gets a copy.  This is called “personal service”.  At the full hearing, where both parties are present and go before the judge, the order will be given to both of you at the end of the hearing if the judge enters the order.  DO NOT LEAVE THE COURTROOM without a copy of the order.

23.  How will I know when the Protective Order is served on the person from whom I want protection?  (“served” means the order is given, in person, to the named individual on the document.  A sheriff or police officer serves protective orders.)

Preliminary Protective Orders or Protective Orders are served as soon as law enforcement makes contact with the respondent.  If you are not aware of whether the order has been served you can contact the police department at (434)970-3280 or the Victim Witness Office at (434)970-3176.

24.  What should I do with the order?

Once you have a copy of the order, keep the order in a safe place.  You should carry a copy of the order with you at all times.  You will have to show it to the police or the court if there is a violation.  Also, give a copy to anyone else who is protected by the order, and leave copies anywhere that the other person is not allowed to go (your work, school, daycare, etc.)

25.  What should I do if the Protective Order is violated?

If your Protective Order is violated, you should immediately call 911 and tell law enforcement that you have a Protective Order and the abuser is violating it.  You should also notify Victim Witness Office, located in the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and/or the court.

26.  How do I find an attorney to help me?

If you choose to have an attorney represent you, you may hire your own.  If you cannot afford an attorney to help you, you may contact Legal Aid and ask for assistance.

If you are the victim of domestic violence, you may qualify for free legal services.  For more information, contact
• Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, Inc. – 434/977-0553

Another place you may be able to find an attorney
• Virginia Lawyer Referral Service – 804/775-0500

27.  Where can I park?

Parking is available in the parking garage located next door to the Clerk’s Office and Courtroom; handicap spaces are available on the first level.  There is also 2 hours street parking.

28.  What are the related Virginia Code sections?

§8.01-42.3 Civil action for stalking
§18.2-60.3 Stalking: penalty
§18.2-60.4 Violation of protective orders; penalty
§18.2-119 Trespass after having been forbidden to do so; penalties
§18.2-308 Personal protection; carrying concealed weapons; when lawful to carry
§18.2-308.1:4 Purchase or transportation of firearm by persons subject to protective orders: penalty
§19.2-11.01 Crime victim’s and witness rights
§19.2-11.2 Crime victims’ right to nondisclosure of certain information; exceptions: testimonial privilege
§19.2-152.8 Emergency protective orders authorized
§19.2-152.9 Preliminary protective orders
§19.2-152.10 Protective order
§19.2-368.2 Definitions