Temporary Protective Orders

The Temporary Protective order is a method provided in Georgia for people to ask the judicial system to help them get another person out of their life. Whether this person is physically abusive or will not leave the other person alone, there is a way to get the Courts involved. TPO’s are often called restraining orders but TPO’s have higher consequences. This process is quick and can impact someone’s ability to live where they want, to see their children, and to own firearms.

Basics of a TPO

A Temporary Protective Order is an order brought by one person against another person and prevents the second person from talking or communicating with the first. There are two types of TPO’s in Georgia, one for situations involving “family violence” and one for stalking situations. The process for getting a TPO is relatively simple:

1. A person alleges specific facts or either family violence or stalking and submits their allegations to a Superior Court Judge.
2. The judge will set a date for a hearing on if the TPO should or should not be granted. Often, the judge will grant an ‘Ex-Parte Order’ which is effectively a TPO that covers the time until the hearing can be held.
3. The party who is accused of violence or stalking will be served with the TPO by law enforcement. Any contact after this point can and will get you arrested and charged with the felony of Aggravated Stalking.

4. The hearing will be held. If either party does not show up, then the other side will win. At the hearing, the person applying for the TPO must show that family violence or stalking has occurred and will continue to occur without the TPO.
5. After hearing both slides, the Judge will issue their ruling. A granted TPO can last up to 12 months and carries consequences regarding your freedom, property, and ability to possess firearms.


TPO vs. Restraining Order: Understanding the Distinctions

The primary difference between a Temporary Protective Order (TPO) and a restraining order lies in their scope and application. A TPO, often issued in cases of domestic violence or family violence (family violence protective orders), provides immediate, short-term protection before a full court hearing can take place.

It’s specifically designed to protect victims from further abuse and may include various stipulations, such as prohibiting contact or requiring the abuser to stay away from the victim’s home, workplace, or children’s school. Restraining orders, including the domestic violence restraining order, employer protective orders, and stalking protective orders, are broader and can be permanent, issued after a court hearing.

Both are issued by a district or county court, but a TPO is a more urgent, temporary measure taken to ensure immediate protection while restraining orders offer long-term safety solutions.

How to Defend Against One

You need a lawyer to defend against the allegations in a TPO. An experienced attorney will know the right questions to ask and will present your side of the story to the Judge. Every situation is different but the most common defenses in TPO cases are below:

* The allegations in the petition are false.
* This is the best place to start. The applicant may have embellished some details to try and convince the judge or outright lie on the application. The applicant will have to testify about the allegations and it will be up to the Judge if they should be believed.
* There is no threat of future violence.
* The applicant must convince the Judge that without this order, more harm will come their way. If the allegations are from years ago or you have not seen the other person in months then the Judge might find that each party has moved on and are not part of each other’s lives.
* Filing a counter petition
* In some cases, TPO’s can be entered in and ordered as ‘mutual’ which could protect some of your assets and freedoms. The counter action must be filed in a specific window or it will not be considered by the Judge.

These three defenses seem simple but are complex to deliver in Court. Our aggressive attorneys know the types of questions to ask to pick apart the allegations against you.

Common Issues that Arise

Misunderstanding is not a valid defense in criminal court. There are pitfalls in the TPO process that are unfair and could land you in jail if you are not careful. Call our office as soon as you are served to avoid the situation getting any worse. Here are a few common mistakes that lead to violations and criminal charges in many cases:

1. Not understanding the ‘Ex-Parte Order’
If you are served with an Ex-Parte Order, you must follow everything it says until your hearing date. If you violate any of the conditions on the Order, you will likely be charged with the felony of Aggravated Stalking and put in jail with no bond. Any contact with the other person can put you in jail for however long it takes for your hearing to be heard.
2. Personal Histories
You can expect that all the worst moments of your relationship with someone will come out at the hearing, especially if they involved aggression or violence of any kind.
3. You Could be Kicked out
If one person obtains a TPO against the other and both parties live in the same house, the Order can require the person facing the accusations to stay away from the house even if they are the owner. TPO’s can have far reaching effects on many areas of your life.

What happens if you lose a TPO

Below you will find a list of the provisions that the Judge could ultimately put in TPO if someone were to lose their hearing. You will notice that it could impact your access to your home, custody of your children, and where you can be at any given time. Furthermore, you could be required to forfeit any firearms in your possession for the duration of the TPO. The stakes are too high to try and beat your TPO alone. Let the attorneys at Swingle Levin take the reigns in your case to work on preventing the dominos from falling in the first place.

As provided in O.C.G.A. § 19-13-4 (a) (1-11), an order granting a TPO can have any of the following effects on the person subject to it:

(1) Direct the respondent to refrain from such acts;
(2) Grant to a party possession of the residence or household of the parties and exclude the other party from the residence or household;
(3) Require a party to provide suitable alternate housing for a spouse, former spouse, or parent and the parties’ child or children;
(4) Award temporary custody of minor children and establish temporary visitation rights;
(5) Order the eviction of a party from the residence or household and order assistance to the victim in returning to it, or order assistance in retrieving personal property of the victim if the respondent’s eviction has not been ordered;
(6) Order either party to make payments for the support of a minor child as required by law;
(7) Order either party to make payments for the support of a spouse as required by law;
(8) Provide for possession of personal property of the parties;
(9) Order the respondent to refrain from harassing or interfering with the victim;
(10) Award costs and attorney’s fees to either party; and
(11) Order the respondent to receive appropriate psychiatric or psychological services as a further measure to prevent the recurrence of family violence.

Hiring a TPO Attorney

If you want to protect your property, your reputation, and possibly your freedom call our office to have an attentive and aggressive advocate on your side. As soon as you or a loved one is served with TPO paperwork, it is time to get an attorney. We will stand alongside you and push towards the best outcome possible for your specific case. Call us today.