Personal Protection Orders - PPOs - are available to help protect victims from a perpertator's stalking, harrassment, threatening, and other harmful behavior. In Oakland County a victim would have to petition an assigned Circuit Court Judge to grant a PPO at the 6th Circuit Court, which is located at 1200 N. Telegraph Road in Pontiac, Michigan.
There are 2 types of Personal Protection Orders (PPOs) in Michigan, which are categorized based on the relationship between the Petitioner (the person seeking the PPO) and Respondent (the person who the PPO is sought against):
1) Domestic Relationship PPOs (under MCL 600.2950) are designed to restrain behavior that interferes with the Petitioner's personal liberty, or that causes a reasonable fear of violence, including stalking. This type of PPO is only available against the following persons:
a) the Petitioner's spouse or former spouse;
b) a person with whom the Petitioner has a child in common;
c) A person who resides, or previously resided, in the same household as the Petitioner;
d) A person with whom the Petitioner has or had a dating relationship. A dating relationship is more than a casual relationship or fraternization at work, school, or in a social context. It is a frequent, intimate relationship with the expectation of affection.
A Domestic Relationship PPO may prohibit the Respondent from engaging in any of the following:
1. Entering onto the premises of the protected individual;
2. Assaulting, attacking, beating, molesting, or wounding the protected individual;
3. Threatening to kill or physically injure the protected person;
4. Removing minor children from the individual having legal custody of the children, except as authorized by a valid family court order;
5. Purchasing a firearm;
6. Interfering with the Petitioner's efforts to remove his or her children or pesonal property that is owned or leased by the respondent;
7. Interfering with the Petitioner at work or school, or engaging in conduct that impairs the petitioner's work or school;
8. Having access to information in records concerning a minor child of both petitioner and respondent that will inform the Respondent about the the address or telephone number of the Petitioner and Petitioner's minor child or about the Petitioner's employment address;
9. Engaging in Stalking or Aggravated Stalking;
10. Any other specific act or conduct that imposes upon or interferes with personal liberty or that causes a reasonable fear of violence.
The Court SHALL issue a Domestic Relationship PPO if it determines that there is reasonable cause to believe that the individual to be restrained or enjoined may commit 1 or more of the above acts. The Court can consider testimony, documents, prior history of the Respondent, or other evidence in support for the request for the PPO.
2) Non Domestic Relationship PPOs under MCL 600.2950. There are 2 types of non domestic relationship PPOs: Stalking PPOs under MCL 600.2950a(1); Sexual Assault PPOs under MCL 600.2950a(2).
a) Stalking PPOs - available to protect an individual from stalking,aggravated stalking, and cyber stalking. Stalking requires 2 or more separate, non continuous acts evidencing a continuity of purpose.
Through a Stalking PPO, an Oakland County Circuit Court Judge can enjoin a Respondent from:
3. Following or appearing within the victim's sight
4. Approaching or confronting the petitioner in a public place or on private property;
5. Appearing at the Petitioner's work or home;
6. Entering onto or remaining on property owned, leased, or occupied by the Petitioner;
7. Contacting the Petitioner by telephone;
8. Sending mail or electronic communications to the Petitioner;
9. Placing an object on, or delivering an object to, property owned, leased, or occupied by the Petitioner;
b) Sexual Assault PPOs - available to the victims of sexual assault, victims that have received obscene material under MCL 750.142, and Petitioners who have a reasonable fear of sexual assault by the Respondent.
The Oakland County Circuit Court Judge is permitted to enjoin the Respondent from and of the following:
1. Entering onto the premises of the petitioner or named individual;
2. Threatening to sexually assault, kill, or physically injure the Petitioner or a named individual;
3. Purchasing or possessing a firearm;
4. Interfering with the Petitioner's efforts to remove his or her children or pesonal property that is owned or leased by the respondent;
5. Interfering with the Petitioner at work or school, or engaging in conduct that impairs the Petitioner's work or school;
6. Following or appearing within the sight of the Petitioner;
7. Approaching or confronting the Petitioner in a public place or on private property;
8. Appearing at the Petitioner's work or home;
9. Entering onto or remaining on property owned, leased, or occupied by the Petitioner;
10. Contacting the Petitioner by telephone;
11. Sending mail or electronic communications to the petitioner;
12. Placing an object on, or delivering an object to, property owned, leased, or occupied by the Petitioner;
13. Engaging in Stalking or Aggravated Stalking;
14. Any other specific act or conduct that imposes upon or interferes with personal liberty or that causes a reasonable fear of violence or sexual assault.
The Sexual Assault PPO SHALL be granted if the Court determines that the Respondent has been convicted of sexual assault of the Petitioner, or that the Respondent was convicted of furnishing obscene material to the Petitioner.
For any of the above referenced PPOs, upon a factual showing to the assigned Oakland County Circuit Court Judge, relief is availble ex parte - without advance notice to the Restrained individual. In fact, the assigned Oakland County Circuit Court Judge MUST issue an ex parte PPO if it clearly appears from the specific facts that immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result from the delay required to effectuate notice, or that notice itself will precipitate adverse action before a PPO can be issued. It becomes valid when signed by the Judge, and is immediately enforceable. Likewise, an extension of the PPO can also be requested ex parte at least 3 days before the expiration of the PPO.
A PPO can be obtained in any county in Michigan, except for minors. For minors, the proper venue is the county of residence of either the Petitioner or Respondent. There is no filing fee to obtain a PPO. Forms are avaialble at the County Courthouse if either party chooses to represent themselves. If the PPO is granted, the clerk of the Court places the PPO information immediately into the LEIN system for law enforcement purposes.
The Respondent can challenge the issuance of any of the above PPOs in Court, or petition the Court to modify the terms of the PPO. For Sexual Assault PPOs, the Michigan Rape Shield Act applies to the hearing. The Respondent must file a written motion and offer of proof at least 24 hours before a hearing concerning a violation of a Sexual Assault PPO, or provide a Motion and offer of proof at the time of the filing of a motion to terminate or modify the Sexual Assault PPO.
The hearing on a motion to terminate or modify a PPO MUST occur within 14 days of the filing of the motion. If the PPO prohibits the Respondent from purchasing or possessing a firearm, and the Respondent is licensed to cary a CCW, and is required to carry a weapon as a condition of employment, the hearing must occur within 5 days after the filing of the motion. The Petitioner has the burden of justifying the continuation of the PPO at the hearing.
If the PPO is denied initially, or at a hearing, the Court MUST state on the record or in writing the reasons for the denial of the PPO. The Petitioner can ask for a hearing if the PPO is initially denied. The Court will grant the request within 21 days of the denial, unless the Petitioner's claims are deemed sufficiently without merit that he action should be dismissed without a hearing. For any motion or hearing to take place, the moving party must make proper service upon the opposing party in accordance with the Michigan Court Rules. The order to grant or deny a PPO can be appealed to the Court of Appeals.
Persons under the age of 18 years, or who is legally incapacitated, can get a PPO if a next friend is appointed. A minor, however, cannot get a PPO against a parent unless the minor is emancipated.
The Oakland County Circuit Court cannot issue mutual PPOs, and the parties cannot stipulate to the same. However, separate PPO orders are permitted against each party if the Court makes separate findings to support the PPOs against each party.
The Police are authorized to make a warrantless arrest if the officer has reasonable cause to believe that the Respondent is violated or has violated the PPO. Persons accused of violaton of a Personal Protection Order have the right to a lawyer, and a contested hearing, to challenge the accusation.
Persons found guilty of violating the PPO are subject to criminal and or civil contempt of Court sanctions. Violation of a PPO carries a possible penalty of up to 93 days in jail, and a fine of up to $500. Minors that are subject to a PPO are subject to the jurisdiction of the juvenile court if he or she violates a PPO.
Reasons why a Petitioner for a PPO may wish to hire a lawyer:
1. To make sure the petition is properly drafted, filed, and served to help avoid it from being rejected by the Court, filed;
2. To pursue any violations of the Personal Protection Order with the Court;
3. To modify the terms of the PPO when necessary, or to extend the length of the PPO when it is set to expire;
4. To have the peace of mind that a lawyer will help end stalking, harrassment, or other negative or dangerous behavior exhibited by a Respondent.
Reasons why a Respondent to a PPO may wish to hire a lawyer:
1. PPOs can interfere with employment. Employees that are subject to background checks, security clearances, or who must possess a firearm in connections with work can be harmed by the entry of a PPO;
2. PPOs can infringe upon an individual's 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. This can impact an individual's personal safety, employment, and ability to hunt or engage in any recreational use of a firearm;
3. PPOs are often improperly obtained to gain the advantage or upper hand in child custody and divorce proceeedings;
4. If found in violation of a PPO, a Court can impose jail time, and other negative conditions on the Respondent;
5. PPO information is entered into the law enforcement LEIN system. This may make an officer less sympathetic with a Respondent when stopped;
6. The PPO file is a public record. A Respondent may wish to address negative, false information that is available for others to see;
7. Hiring an experienced lawyer will help with efforts to set aside or modify a PPO that was entered against the Respondent, including conducting a hearing when necessary.
Hiring the right lawyer may be one of the most important decisions you make for yourself and your family. There are many lawyers who claim to do more than what they are able - just as there are many surgeons in the world that are no better than butchers. Do not settle for a legal hack job. Practicing law is a skill that develops over time with experience, commitment, dedication, and God given talent. There are no amateur attorneys at Hilf & Hilf, PLC – only professionals that are guided by the humanity in the individuals we serve, and the drive not to settle for what is easy over what is right.
Daniel Hilf, Esq. of the law firm of Hilf & Hilf, PLC, is a criminal defense lawyer who is driven by a commitment to winning. His legal career is distinguished by an ability to think on his feet, to analyze issues in both conventional and unconventional ways, and to react effectively against the challenges presented by Prosecutors and Courts.