Restraining orders: Do I need a lawyer?

South Dakota allows domestic violence or stalking victims to get protection orders, sometimes called restraining orders. The system often succeeds in protecting potential victims. Unfortunately, the process can be abused. One recent case illustrates how a lawyer protected the integrity of the hearing process. In Turner v. Belman, a recent Iowa protection order case, Ms. Turner accused Mr. Belman of domestic assault. Often, judges issue temporary orders upon request. Then the judge schedules a hearing to figure out whether the domestic violence actually happened. In this case, Ms. Turner requested a temporary order from the judge, which was granted. The judge scheduled the court hearing for about a week later.

Mr. Belman went to the hearing to deny the accusation and defend himself. Depending on the circumstances, permanent protection orders can have long-reaching effects. They impact a person’s daily life, livelihood, relationships, and reputation. They can result in unexpected criminal charges and completely change the course of a divorce or custody case. In some cases, protection orders will result in the loss of Second Amendment gun rights. Protection orders should be taken very seriously and respectfully.

At the hearing in the Turner case, the judge told everyone that they would only get fifteen minutes. Each would get seven and a half minutes to present their case or defense. Ms. Turner offered fifty pages of emails and text messages as an exhibit. Obviously, it takes more than seven minutes to carefully read through all those pages. Nevertheless, following the brief hearing, the judge entered a permanent order of protection.

And that likely would have been the end of it. But Mr. Belman’s attorney made a motion to the judge about the time limit. The permanent protection order was effectively undone and rescheduled for a full hearing. In the meantime, the temporary protection order remained in place, protecting Ms. Turner until she could present her evidence.

Restraining orders and Protection Orders should be taken seriously by both sides

If you are the victim of domestic abuse or stalking, don’t hesitate to request a protective order. You should consider talking with a lawyer at Helsper, McCarty and Rasmussen before court to learn what you need to do to get the permanent order. If you have been improperly accused of domestic violence or stalking, think twice before assuming that you will have the time and ability to defend the charge without a lawyer. Lawyers at Helsper McCarty and Rasmussen also help client defend against abusive protection orders.