Order of Protection

Order of Protection



An Order of Protection, often referred to as an “O-P” for short, is a civil petition (as opposed to a criminal court action) that typically occurs in Circuit Court in the State of Tennessee. Orders of Protection usually occur after the Petitioner (the person who believes they are in immediate and present danger of abuse), files a document with the Circuit Court Clerk known as a petition. Petitions are usually available as a fill-in-the-blank document available at the Circuit Court Clerk’s desk and are sometimes available for download online, depending on the county. The petition requests that the court issue an Order of Protection against the Respondent (the person against whom the petition is filed). OPs apply to family members, couples or people in a relationship (past or present), members of the same household, persons who allege stalking behavior, and persons who have been sexually assaulted.  There are typically two kinds of Orders of Protection:


  • The first type of Order of Protection is where the court grants a Temporary Order of Protection (also called an Ex-Parte Order of Protection).  A Temporary Order of Protection issues after a petition is filed and, for good cause shown, the court immediately grants or enforces an order prohibiting contact and potentially imposing other specific behavioral requirements, such as prohibiting the Respondent from possessing firearms.  The judge reviewing the petition will grant a Temporary Order of Protection when he or she believes the allegations are very serious, and demonstrate such a serious immediate and present danger, that an Order of Protection should be temporarily enforced at that time, even without the presence or input of the Respondent. In these cases, the court shall set a hearing within fifteen (15) days after the Order of Protection is served on the Respondent. At the time of the hearing, the Petitioner must prove by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not), that valid allegations of domestic abuse, stalking, or sexual assault exist to justify keeping the Order of Protection in place.  The court will then issue an order of protection for a definite period of time.  Although a court, or the parties, may agree on any shorter length of time on an Order of Protection, most often courts grant them for the full year allowable under the law.
  • The second type of Order of Protection (non-Ex Parte) is very similar and the same standards of proof apply. However, sometimes a judge will not immediately grant a Temporary Order of Protection if he or she believes that the Petitioner’s request is not an emergency, the document filed does not seem to demonstrate an immediate threat, or the judge believes that he or she should hear more evidence in order to make sure that an Order of Protection is appropriate under the circumstances.  Both situations above are handled similarly and should be addressed with the assistance of an attorney.
In a nutshell, an Ex Parte (Temporary) Order of Protection is granted immediately without hearing from the Respondent because the judge feels the Petitioner is in danger. A non-Ex Parte Order of Protection (simply called an Order of Protection) means that the judge wants to learn more before making a decision, and possibly seek a response from the Respondent. 

Although some people choose to handle Orders of Protection by themselves, those who do most often find themselves at a considerable disadvantage against a party (Petitioner or Respondent) that is represented by a lawyer who knows the standard of proof, the evidentiary burden, and how best to present the case to the judge.

If you believe you are about to be served an Order of Protection, or have been served already, please contact us immediately to discuss the steps and procedures you should promptly take to protect your rights and address your situation. We answer calls 24/7 at (865) 540-8300 or you can send an email to info@garzalaw.com.

Let us put our entire team of criminal defense attorneys to work for you.

Meet the criminal defense attorneys at Garza Law:

 Daniel Morrell, Knoxville Criminal Defense Lawyer     

In the alternative, if you believe you are the potential victim of domestic violence or if you feel you are in immediate danger, call the police and protect yourself from any potential emergency or harm.  In these circumstances, if you feel you should potentially file an Order of Protection, you may also call us and discuss whether an Order of Protection is right for you and whether you should hire or seek the advice of an attorney who handles Orders of Protection under your current circumstances.


We do represent both Petitioners and Respondents in Order of Protection cases across East Tennessee. Trust Garza Law—we treat you like family.