Office of the Prosecuting Attorney
Personal Protection Orders
What is a Personal Protection Order?
A Personal Protection Order (PPO) is a Circuit Court injunctive order that helps protect victims of Family Violence, Dating Violence, or Stalking. A PPO is filed by a Petitioner against a Respondent to stop or restrain from:
- contacting the Petitioner through any means (in person, by phone, by mail or e-mail, etc.)
- entering the Petitioner's residence property or work place
- assaulting, attacking, beating, or wounding the Petitioner
- harassing, stalking, or threatening the Petitioner
- removing any minor children from where they live unless their removal is part of court-ordered visitation
- interfering with the Petitioner's efforts to remove the children or property
- purchasing or possessing a firearm
How is a PPO different from a "no contact" bond condition?
A "no-contact" bond condition is imposed on a defendant during a pending criminal charge. A restraining order (including a PPO) is a civil action between citizens.
A "no-contact" bond condition means that a defendant can not call, write, have a third party contact, or themselves physically contact the victim or any other party with whom the judge orders the defendant to have "no contact". It is generally placed on the bond of a defendant charged with a violent or assaultive crime who is released from jail while the charge is pending. Like all other bond conditions (e.g., not violating criminal laws, not leaving the state, appearing at future court proceedings, etc.), any violation could cause the judge to raise or revoke the bond, in which case the defendant would remain in jail until the case is finished. A judge has the discretion to issue (or not issue) any bond condition, as they see fit. A "no-contact" condition stays in effect for the entire duration of the criminal case, or until the victim requests that it be removed or "lifted" (with the judge's approval). A "no-contact" provision can also be imposed as part of a sentence.
Who can get a PPO?
- Anyone who has been physically, emotionally, or sexually abused by a current or former spouse, a family member, a domestic partner, the other parent of your child, a current or former roommate, or a current or former person in a dating relationship. (This is called a "domestic PPO".)
- Anyone who has been stalked - repeatedly harassed to the point of being terrorized, intimidated, or threatened. (This is called a stalking PPO.)
Can a PPO be issued for a minor?
Yes and No. A minor cannot get the PPO in his or her own name. An adult must be appointed by the court as a "Next Friend" for a minor under 17 years of age (or a legal incapacitated person). An unemancipated minor cannot get a PPO against their parent(s).
Can a PPO be issued against a minor?
Yes and No. Michigan now allows PPOs to be issued against a minor - someone under 18 years old. But a parent cannot get a PPO issued against his/her own unemancipated minor child. Don't forget: many of the same "no contact" protections that you can receive through a PPO can be added as bond or probation conditions if the minor is prosecuted for assaultive, destructive, harassing or stalking behavior.
Getting your PPO
Where can I get a PPO?
A "do-it-yourself" PPO packet, containing instructions and all necessary forms, is available at the Circuit Court Trial Division, Michigan Avenue Courthouse, 227 W. Michigan Avenue, Kalamazoo, MI 49007 (Enter the courthouse through the Church Street entrance, West side of building), 4th Floor, Room 401. Please call 269-385-6081 to schedule an appointment.
By using the "do-it-yourself" Personal Protection Order, YOU ARE CHOOSING TO REPRESENT YOURSELF IN A LAWSUIT. You have involved the Court, so YOU MUST FOLLOW THE COURT'S RULES! If you miss one of the required steps, the Order you get from the Court could be ineffective and you could remain unprotected.
Can I get a PPO right away, or do I have to wait for a hearing?
If you are in immediate danger, you may request an ex-parte order, which will take effect immediately without a hearing upon the judge's signature and without advanced notice to the other party. It may take up to 2 1/2 hours to complete the petition. If you want an ex-parte order, you must convince the judge with SPECIFIC facts contained in your motion that you are in danger of immediate and irreparable injury, harm, or damage (injury that cannot be repaired by a court order after the injury happens) if the PPO is not issued. Ex-parte PPOs do not require a court hearing, unless the defendant requests a hearing to modify or terminate the order. If a hearing is requested, both parties must be present.
"Non-emergency" PPOs will require a hearing in front of the circuit court judge before the PPO will be issued. At this hearing, the judge will listen to testimony by witnesses regarding what has happened that necessitates a PPO.
What facts do I have to include in the papers?
The facts that you include in the PPO application are the most important part. It may take up to 2 1/2 hours to complete the application. You may want to consider picking up the PPO packet and taking it somewhere safe to fill it in. Tell the Judge what your relationship is with the Respondent. Tell the Judge what has happened recently that has caused you to need a PPO...in short, why you need to be protected. The forms give you very little room to include facts, but you can attach additional pages. Include detailed facts to support your need for a protection order, like dates, times, locations, witnesses and details.
YOU MUST ADVISE THE COURT IF THE PERSON YOU ARE TRYING TO RESTRAIN IS A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER OR PERSON WHO MUST CARRY A WEAPON AS A CONDITION OF EMPLOYMENT! CHECK THE APPROPRIATE BOX IN THE PPO PETITION FORM.
What information and documents should I bring when I file the PPO?
If you can support the facts with evidence, do it! Attach:
- information or documents that support the facts - police reports, medical records, reports from social agencies, photographs of injuries, affidavits or notarized written statements from witnesses to the events you describe in your motion, etc.
- court documents - complaint for divorce, annulment or separate maintenance papers, divorce decree, custody orders, lease agreement, etc. The PPO is not an alternative to eviction proceeding.
- descriptive information about the person to be restrained, such as name, home address, place of employment, date of birth, Social Security number, driver's license number, and physical description (hair color, eye color, height, weight, tattoos, scars, etc.)
How much does a PPO cost?
There is no filing fee for PPOs. However, the cost of serving a copy of the PPO on the restrained person (which is the Petitioner's responsibility) may vary depending on who serves it.
What happens at the courthouse when I file for the ppo?
Pick up a copy of the PPO packet and all other forms at the Kalamazoo County Circuit Trial Division, Michigan Avenue Courthouse, 227 W. Michigan Avenue, Kalamazoo, MI 49007 (enter the courthouse through the Church Street entrance, west side of building), 4th Floor, Room 401, 269-385-6081, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. (noon to 1:00 p.m. by appointment)
- Fill out the Complaint and Motion for Personal Protection Order. If you are alleging that the Respondent is stalking you, don't forget to check the appropriate box(es). Re-read your forms and attachments. Are they complete? Do they fully and accurately tell the Judge what the Respondent has done and why you need a PPO? Do the forms list all affected people who should be protected by the PPO (you, your children, your work location, etc.)?
- Bring these completed documents to Kalamazoo County Circuit Court - Trial Division, the clerk will look the papers over and forward them to the Judge. A written order or denial will generally be available within a 24 hour period.
- If you are asking for an ex-parte (emergency) order, the clerk will bring the papers to the Judge's office. The Judge must personally review the papers. You may be asked to wait a while, depending on the Judge's court schedule or asked to call or come back later.
- If the Judge signs your ex-parte order, his staff will bring the paperwork back to the Clerk's Office for filing. The Clerk will give you certified copies. (If the Judge refuses to sign the order, they will state their reasons.)
- It is now your responsibility to serve the Respondent with a copy of your Complaint and Motion for a PPO, all documents supporting your request, and the Court's PPO order.
Will the person who is being restrained see everything I file, including where I am living?
A copy of your motion and anything you attach to your request for the PPO will be given to the person you want restrained. If you do not want to include your home address or phone number in these documents, tell the Court Clerk who assists you. She can help you fill out an edited version of the documents with that personal information deleted, before it is served on the defendant. However, you still must give the court a contact address so the Court can send notices to you.
Where can I get help to fill out the PPO forms?
The Circuit Court Clerk's staff are not lawyers, and are prohibited from giving legal advice on how to fill the forms out, what to include, etc. The staff cannot assist you beyond explaining internal procedures of the court. However, your Victim Advocate at the Kalamazoo County Prosecutor's Office or staff members at the YWCA Shelter may review your papers and suggest additional information that you should include.
Serving your PPO
How do I serve the papers?
Anyone who is over the age of 18 - other than you - can serve the Respondent. There are 3 ways service of process can be completed:
- By Process Server: hire a process server, find them in the Yellow Pages or the Court can provide you with a list of process servers.
- By Personal Service: have a friend or relative over the age of 18, who has no involvement in the PPO request, personally hand the PPO paperwork to the person being restrained; or
- By Mail: serve the person being restrained by registered mail (return receipt requested) with delivery restricted to him/her. The registered mail package should include a copy of the notice of hearing (if its for a Hearing Motion), a copy of the entire packet you filled out and filed with the clerk as the PPO, and a copy of the order.
Can the respondent be given oral notice of the PPO?
A law enforcement officer or clerk of the court who has knowledge of the existence of a PPO may serve the PPO on the Respondent or give oral notice of the existence of the PPO. After doing so, they must file a proof of service or proof of the oral notice with the court. After the officer or clerk serves the Respondent with the PPO orally, they should immediately file the appropriate proof of service with the court so the service can be entered into the computer system.
What happens after the person being restrained is served with the PPO?
Once the Respondent is served, you must file separate proof of service that your agent has handed both the Petition for PPO and the Court's PPO Order to the Respondent. The proof of service forms for each are virtually the same, and are located on the back sides of the Petition and PPO forms. The proof of service requires information on the date, time, and place where service occurred. File the completed forms with the Circuit Court Clerk, 227 W. Michigan Avenue, 4th Floor, Room 401, Kalamazoo, MI.
When does the ppo go into effect?
The order goes into effect as soon as the judge signs it - but a PPO is enforceable against a defendant only after it has been served on the Respondent! The Clerk's Office is responsible for providing a copy of the order to the local police agency so that it can immediately be entered into the Law Enforcement Information Network (L.E.I.N.).
ALWAYS CARRY A COPY OF YOUR PPO, SO THAT A POLICE OFFICER CAN QUICKLY CONFIRM THE TERMS OF THE ORDER IF THE RESPONDENT COMMITS A VIOLATION.
What if respondent violates the PPO?
If your situation is an emergency, CALL 911. Otherwise, call the nearest police department.
Does the violation have to occur in front of a law enforcement officer?
No. A police officer may make a warrantless arrest of a PPO Respondent if the officer has "reasonable cause" to believe that a PPO has been violated.
ALWAYS CARRY A COPY OF YOUR PPO, SO THAT A POLICE OFFICER CAN QUICKLY CONFIRM THE TERMS OF THE ORDER IF THE RESPONDENT COMMITS A VIOLATION.
What if the PPO violator has left the scene before the police arrive?
The PPO statute does not impose a time limit on the police officer's arrest authority, so a warrantless arrest may happen even if the Respondent has left the scene of an alleged violation. If the police cannot find the Respondent, they may choose to file a warrant request for Stalking or Aggravated Stalking, if all other elements of those crime are present.
What happens if respondent is arrested?
The police may arrest the restrained party if they were previously served with a copy of the PPO. The police are encouraged to arrest if they have evidence of a PPO violation, but they have discretion to arrest or not to arrest. If arrested, the restrained party will be brought to a Circuit Court judge within 24 hours. At that time, the Judge can set a bond; if the Respondent posts the bond, they can be released. The Judge will also set a date for a hearing where you and other necessary witnesses will testify about how the Respondent violated the PPO. The Kalamazoo County Prosecutor's Office may be involved in this hearing. You will be notified of the hearing date by subpoena.
What if respondent is not arrested for violating the PPO?
The police might not arrest the restrained party, especially if the officer did not witness the acts violating the PPO, or if there was insufficient proof that the Respondent had been served with the PPO papers before the alleged violation occurred.
If the restrained person is not arrested, you will have to file a motion to show cause in the Circuit Court Clerk's Office to have a hearing about the PPO violation. A show cause action focuses on whether the Respondent should be held in contempt of court for violating the PPO. Like the original PPO application, you will have to write out what the Respondent did and said, and attach supporting witness statements, police reports, photographs, etc. Your motion to show cause will be reviewed by the Judge. If the judge believes that a violation likely occurred, they will schedule a show cause hearing and will issue a show cause order directing the defendant to appear in Court to respond to your allegations that Respondent violated the PPO. You must attend the show cause hearing; bring eye witnesses and supporting evidence, because testimony will be needed if the Respondent disputes what you alleged in your motion. Contact the PPO Office 269-385-6081, if you need help subpoenaing witnesses.
What is the prosecutor's role in PPO contempt hearings?
The Prosecuting Attorney must prosecute all arrest and non-arrest criminal contempt proceedings, unless the Petitioner retains their own attorney for this purpose.
What kinds of punishment can respondent get for violating the PPO?
A PPO is a court order, so any violation is criminal "contempt of court". The Judge can send the violating Respondent to jail for up to 93 days for each violation, and/or impose a fine of up to $500.
What can I do to help "make a case" for a PPO violation?
PPO violations happen in seclusion and public, at night and in broad daylight. Many times, police are not present when the violations occur. The constant is YOU. Therefore, your help is necessary in order to prove that a violation occurred.
Preserve all available tangible evidence of the PPO violation, such as notes or letters, answering machine messages, etc. Keep written notes of when and where the violations happened, what was said and done, who else may have seen or heard the Respondent's conduct, etc. Take photographs of property damage. Give all of these to the police when you make a police report. Share copies with the Prosecutor.
Can a respondent be charged with both a PPO violation and a separate criminal offense for the same behavior?
Yes. Michigan statutes clearly state a Legislative intent that criminal sanctions be imposed in addition to whatever criminal penalties apply for a separate criminal offense. Also, appellate decisions have stated that separate convictions do not violate double jeopardy, even though they were based on the same conduct.
What if I resume contact with the respondent after the PPO has been issued?
The PPO is directed to the Respondent's behavior, NOT the Petitioner's. Regardless of the Petitioner's wishes for contact, the Respondent will have violated the court's order. The Petitioner's invitation or consent may mitigate sanctions, but it is no defense to the violation.
A Petitioner should not "send the wrong signals" to the Respondent by actually or seemingly allowing contact that violates the PPO. The PPO means what the order says and applies when the order says .... NOT just when it is "convenient" to the Petitioner for the terms to apply. If you do not want or need the PPO in effect any move, move to set it aside or modify it.
How do I dismiss the ppo? How do I change the terms of the PPO?
Only a court can change a PPO; the parties cannot do this privately or informally. If you decide to get back together (reconcile) with the person you had restrained, or you no longer want the order to remain in effect, either you or the Respondent must file a motion in court to "dissolve" the order. Otherwise, the order will remain in effect until the date the judge originally set for it to expire. A form to modify (change the terms of) or dissolve (dismiss) the PPO is available in the Circuit Court Clerk's Office - Trial Division. The same form is used to change any of the terms of the order (i.e. your new home/work address).
The Respondent may move to modify or rescind the PPO within 14 days after service or actual notice, or for good cause shown after the 14 days have elapsed. A hearing must be held within 14 days after a request for modification or rescission.
A motion is also necessary to obtain a PPO which is effective longer than the time allowed in the ex-parte order.
SOURCE: Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney's Web site on PPOs