In West Virginia, if a person is the victim of abuse by a household member, he or she can request a protective order from the court. A household member includes a spouse or ex-spouse, intimate partner, a person the victim dated, a person with whom the victim has a child or other relationship.
If a person who witnessed an act of domestic violence, reported it and is then harassed or threatened, he or she can also apply for a protective order.
The order can be put in place to stop the abuser from harassing, stalking or threatening the victim or the victim’s minor children, to prevent the abuser from contacting the victim, prohibit the abuser from possessing a weapon and other activities. There are consequences for the abuser if he or she violates the order, including a fine and jail time.
Emergency and final protective orders
There are two types of protective orders in West Virginia, an emergency order and a final order. Emergency protective orders are intended to provide immediate protection to the victim. The judge must state or believe that the victim is in immediate danger of abuse before it is issued.
If the abuser is not present at the emergency protective order hearing, the victim may have to explain to the judge why the abuser should not be notified before the order is issued. For example, this may apply where the victim’s life would be in danger if the abuser is present.
A final order requires a full court hearing where the abuser may have an opportunity to appear. A final order can remain in place for 90 days, 180 days or one year, depending on the circumstances.
If a victim needs assistance to file a protective order, help is available.