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City of Alexandria, VA City of Alexandria, VA
Court Service Unit
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Page updated Oct 11, 2012 2:25 PM

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Protective Orders

A Protective Order is a court document that orders the respondent (the person the order is against) to refrain from further acts of family abuse against the petitioner (you). It may also forbid contact between the parties listed, give you temporary possession of your residence or shared automobile, as well as ordering the respondent to stay away from your house and place of employment.

A Protective Order is for people who are experiencing family abuse. Family abuse is defined as an act of violence, force or threat that results in physical injury or places you in reasonable fear of serious bodily injury. A family member is defined as someone to whom you are related or married or with whom you have lived within the past 12 months or have children in common.

There are three types of protective orders: Emergency Protective Order (EPO), Preliminary Protective Order (PPO) and Protective Order (PO).

An Emergency Protective Order is issued at the time of the incident by a magistrate and is only valid for 72 hours. A Preliminary Protective Order is petitioned through the Court before the EPO expires or if an incident has occurred that has put the petitioner in serious fear for his or her safety. It is valid for 15 days and must be personally served to the respondent to be valid. A Protective Order is entered by a judge, is valid for two years from the date it is issued and, again, must be personally served to the respondent to be valid. A Protective Order is valid in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and must be carried with you at all times.

If you have been issued an EPO that is expiring or if an act of family abuse has occurred and you would like to file for a PPO, you must appear at the Court Service Unit. In order to obtain a PPO, you need to apply at our office between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. You will meet with an Intake Officer who will guide you through the paperwork. Be prepared to set aside a few hours to move through the entire process. You must provide the Intake Officer with the following information: the respondent’s name, nickname, aliases, date of birth, phone numbers, a valid address where the respondent can currently be located, identifying factors, social security number(if available), and information on concealed weapon permits/weapons. After the paperwork has been completed you will appear before the Judge.

A Magistrate, who can issue an Emergency Protective Order, after court hours and on weekends, can be reached at 703 746-4515. However, if you are in immediate danger, contact 911.

If you do not qualify for a Family Abuse Protective Order, you may be able to qualify for a Stalking Protective Order.

While the Court Service Unit cannot offer legal advice, we do have a Lawyer Referral Service in conjunction with the Legal Services of Northern Virginia. Be sure to ask the Intake Officer for more information and how to apply.


520 King St., 1st Floor
Alexandria, VA 22314

Office Hours:
8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.