Orders of protection are important tools designed to protect people from harassment and violence. However, most people do not understand the legal standard necessary for an order of protection to be granted. An order of protection is granted based on the preponderance of the evidence. The preponderance of the evidence standard is different than the more commonly known “beyond the reasonable doubt” standard from criminal law.
The preponderance of the evidence standard is exactly as it sounds. The judge determines what most of the evidence indicates when deciding whether or not to grant or dismiss the order of protection. You could think of it as the 51% standard. In the real world this means that it is relatively easy to obtain an order of protection. This could be a good or bad thing depending where you stand.
If you are being harassed or experiencing domestic violence, you should speak to an attorney to determine whether an order of protection may be a good solution. Alternately, if an order of protection has been taken out against you without cause, the preponderance of the evidence standard can be difficult to overcome.
For better or for worse, an order of protection can drastically alter the course of divorce or child custody proceedings. Given the low standard necessary for obtaining an order of protection it is a good idea to have a lawyer help you with your defense.
Article written by attorney Jeffrey McCombs