Under Michigan law, Prosecuting Attorneys must assist persons seeking enforcement of Personal Protection Orders, and must assist PPO plaintiffs during violation hearings, if he/she is not being represented at that hearing by a private attorney.
What is a Personal Protection Order (PPO)?
A Personal Protection Order ("PPO") is a Circuit Court injunctive order that protects victims of Family Violence, Dating Violence or Stalking. A PPO is filed by a Petitioner against a Respondent to stop or restrain the Respondent 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
- interfering with or engaging in conduct that impairs Petitioner's employment or educational environment
- allowing a non-custodial parent from having access to Petitioner's home or work address or telephone numbers through a minor child's records
- any other specific act that interferes with the Petitioner's personal liberty or causes a reasonable fear of violence
A PPO Cannot:
- evict a person in a landlord/tenant relationship
- establish custody or parenting time
- protect personal property from damage
- mediate neighbor disputes
- stop a person from being rude or spreading rumors
- remove a person from a place they have a legal right to be, such as the local store
Are there different kinds of PPOs?
Yes. There are 2 kinds of PPOs:
- Domestic Relation PPO --- if the Respondent is a: current/former spouse, current/former dating relationship, current/former resident of your household, or you have a child in common.
- Stalking PPO --- if you and the Respondent do not have a domestic relationship, then you must establish that the Respondent has been stalking you.
|NOTE:The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that stalking
must involve two or more "separate and non-continuous" acts.
A single incident comprising a series of continuous acts,
each immediately following the other, is not "stalking".See Pobursky v Gee (Docket #226550, released 12/21/2001).
How is a PPO different from a "no-contact" bond condition?
A restraining order (including a PPO) is a civil action between citizens.
A "no-contact" bond condition can be imposed on a Defendant during a pending criminal prosecution. It means that a Defendant can not personally --- or have a third-party --- contact, call or write the victim, or any other party with whom the Judge orders the Defendant to have "no contact". This is a common bond condition for Defendants charged with violent or assaultive crimes, and protects victims if the Defendant is released from jail while the charge is pending. Like all other bond conditions (e.g., appearing at future Court proceedings, not violating criminal laws, not leaving the state, etc.), any violation could cause the Judge to raise or revoke the bond, in which case the Defendant could remain in jail until the case is finished. A Judge has the discretion to issue (or not issue) any bond condition, as he sees 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 at the sentencing as part of the conditions of probation.
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 legally incapacitated person). An unemancipated minor cannot get a PPO against his/her parent.
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. [See Forms CC 375M and 377M.] 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.
Where can I get a PPO?
A "do-it-yourself" PPO packet, containing instructions and all necessary forms, is available in the Midland County Courthouse, 301 W Main St, Midland, MI 48640, Circuit Court Clerk's office (2nd floor).
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.
Some domestic violence organizations (such as Shelterhouse) hold clinics to assist with PPO paperwork. Contact local shelters in your area or local legal aid organization to see if they provide this service.
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 a required step, or fail to properly and completely fill out required forms, 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 and without advanced notice to the other party. 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.
"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 very important! Tell the Judge what your relationship is with the Respondent, and what has happened recently that makes you need a PPO ... in short, tell 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.
What information and documents should I bring when I file for the PPO?
Attach the following if you can support the facts with evidence:
- information or documents that support the facts --- police reports, medical records, reports from social agencies, photographs (of injuries or property destruction), affidavits or notarized written statements from witnesses to the events you describe in your motion, etc.
- proof of domestic relationship --- marriage license, child's birth certificate or affidavit of parentage, lease agreement, etc.
- Court documents --- complaint for divorce, annulment or separate maintenance papers, divorce decree, custody orders, lease agreement, etc.
- 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.).
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. They can help you fill out an edited version of the documents with that personal information deleted, which will be served on the Defendant. However, you still must give the Court a contact address so the Court can send notices to you.
Do "domestic relationship PPOs" and "non-domestic relationship PPOs" require the same facts or information?
No. "Non-domestic" relationship PPOs require clear facts proving "stalking", before a PPO can be issued (i.e., more than one incident or threats, harassment, etc.). "Domestic" relationship PPOs can be issued after a single incident.
The Respondent is a law enforcement officer, or is licensed to carry a gun. Are they treated differently?
A law enforcement officer or person licensed to carry a gun has no special protections against a PPO petition.
NOTE: 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 item #2 of either PPO Petition form (CC 375 or CC 377).
As of July 1, 2000, a Respondent's employer must be notified immediately if a PPO is issued against a person who is identified in pleadings as a law enforcement officer. Also, the County Concealed Weapons Licensing Board must be notified if a PPO prohibits a Respondent from owning or purchasing firearms.
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 does it.
What happens at the Courthouse when I file for the PPO?
- Pick up a copy of the PPO packet and all other forms from the Midland County Circuit Court Clerk's office, 2nd Floor, Midland County Courthouse, 301 W Main Street, Midland, MI 48640 (989) 832-6735.
Fill out the appropriate PPO Petition [either Form CC 375, CC 375M, CC 377, or CC 377M]. 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? If you are alleging that someone is stalking you, do your facts prove the legal definition? 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 the Midland County Circuit Court Clerk's office. A Deputy Clerk will look the papers over and assign a Judge and a case number.
- 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 have to wait a while, depending on the Judge's Court schedule that day.
- If the Judge signs your ex-parte order, Court staff will bring the paperwork back to the Clerk's office for filing. The Clerk will give you certified copies and will send one to the police department where you live. [If the Judge refuses to sign the Order, it will state the reasons in a memo in your file.]
- 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.
How do I serve the papers?
Anyone who is over the age of 18 --- other than you --- can serve the respondent. There are 4 ways service of process can be completed:
- By Process Server: hire a process server. Find them in the Yellow Pages.
- 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 it is 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.
- Local Law Enforcement Agency: Midland County Sheriff Department 2727 Rodd Street, Midland, MI 48640. Take all paperwork to be served along with the return copies. They will charge you a service fee and mileage.
Can the Respondent be given verbal notice of the PPO?
As of July 1, 2000, 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 verbal notice of the existence of the PPO. After doing so, he/she must file a proof of service or proof of verbal notice with the Court.
What happens after the person being restrained is served with the PPO?
Once the Respondent is served, you must file separate "proofs of service" that your agent has handed both the Petition for PPO (either Form CC 375, CC 375M, CC 377, or CC 377M) and the Court's PPO Order (either Form CC 376, CC 380, or CC 380M) 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.
When does the PPO go into effect?
The order goes into effect as soon as the Judge signs it. The PPO can be enforced immediately. However, if the Respondent has not yet been served with a copy of the PPO, he will be verbally informed of the terms of the order by the responding police officer and given an opportunity to comply with the order.
How does the PPO get entered into LEIN?
The County 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.).
What if the Respondent violates the PPO?
If your situation is an emergency, CALL 9-1-1 !
Does the violation have to occur in front of a law enforcement officer?
No. A police office may make a warrantless arrest of a PPO Respondent if the officer has "reasonable cause" to believe that they violated the PPO.
|ALWAYS CARRY A COPY OF YOUR PPO!
A Police Officer can then quickly confirm the terms of your Order when investigating your report that the Respondent has committed a violation.
As of 04/01/2002, a peace officer, without a warrant, may arrest and take into custody a person when the officer has positive information that a "foreign protection order" has been violated in Michigan. An officer may rely on a copy of the order if it contains all of the following: parties' names, issuance date that is prior to the date when enforcement is sought, terms and conditions against the Respondent, name of issuing Court, judicial officer's signature, and no obvious indication that the order is invalid (such as an expiration date occurring before the date when enforcement is sought). Verification on L.E.I.N. or the NCIC National Protection Order file is not required. The officer may rely on the Petitioner's or Respondent's statement that the Respondent has received prior notice of the order.
A person who violates a foreign protection order that is a conditional release order or a probation order issued by another Court in a criminal proceeding is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 93 days and/or $500. [See 2001 PA 197; MCL 600.2950m.]
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; repeated violations of a PPO may constitute the crime of aggravated stalking.
What happens if he/she is arrested?
The police may arrest the restrained party if he was 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 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 Show Cause Hearing where you and other necessary witnesses will testify about the how the Respondent violated the PPO. The Midland County Prosecutor's Office may be involved in this Show Cause Hearing (see below).
What if he/she is not arrested for violating the PPO?
The police might not arrest the restrained party, especially if the officer did not witness him commit 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, a Show Cause Hearing will be scheduled and will issue a Show Cause Order directing the Defendant to appear in Court to respond to your allegations that they 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.
What is the Prosecuting Attorney's role in PPO contempt hearings?
The Prosecuting Attorney must prosecute all arrest and non-arrest criminal contempt proceedings, unless the Petitioner retains his or her own attorney for this purpose.
What kinds of punishment can the Respondent get for violating the PPO?
A PPO is a Court order, so any violation proven beyond a reasonable doubt 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 $500, and (as of July 1, 2000) can place the Respondent on probation up to 2 years in lieu of jail time.
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. 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 or 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. [See MCL 600.2950(23) and 600.2950a(20).] Also, appellate decisions have stated that separate convictions did 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 more, move to set it aside or modify it.
How do I change the terms of the PPO?
How do I dismiss 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) a PPO the PPO is available in the Circuit Court Clerk's Office. 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.
Is there a fee to modify or cancel a PPO?
There is no filing fee when parties seek to modify or terminate a PPO.