Nondomestic Sexual Assault Personal Protection Orders

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What Is a Nondomestic Sexual Assault Personal Protection Order?

A nondomestic sexual assault personal protection order (PPO) is sometimes called a sexual assault PPO. A sexual assault PPO is a court order to protect you from someone who:

  • Sexually assaulted you,

  • Threatened to sexually assault you, OR

  • Gave you obscene material (if you were younger than 18)

In your sexual assault PPO case, you are the Petitioner. The person you want protection from is the Respondent. The Respondent cannot be someone with whom you have a domestic relationship. This includes:

  • Your current or ex-spouse

  • Your child’s other parent

  • Someone you have lived with

  • Someone you have dated

If you have a domestic relationship with the person you want to be protected from, a petition for a sexual assault PPO is not the right form for you. Instead, you can ask the judge for a domestic relationship PPO. You can use the Do-It-Yourself Personal Protection Order (PPO) tool to prepare the forms you need.

How Can a Sexual Assault PPO Help Me?

Depending on your situation, your sexual assault PPO could prohibit the Respondent from:

  • Threatening to sexually assault, kill, or hurt you or another person you specify

  • Following you or appearing in your sight

  • Showing up at your work or home

  • Approaching or confronting you

  • Entering your home or another place you specify

  • Going onto or staying on property you own, rent, or occupy

  • Calling you

  • Sending you mail or other messages

  • Cyberstalking you (This can include posting messages online.)

  • Buying or having a gun

  • Interfering with you removing your children or personal property from a place the Respondent owns or leases

  • Interfering with you at your job or school, or acting in a way that harms your job or school relationships or environment

  • Placing objects on or delivering them to property that you own, lease, or occupy

  • Any other specific act or behavior that interferes with your personal freedom or makes you reasonably afraid of something violent happening to you (This could include other specific behaviors that you want the judge to prohibit.)

If you are a minor and you are enrolled in a K-12 school, the PPO can also prohibit the Respondent from attending school in the same building as you. For more information about getting a PPO when you are a minor, read Minors and Personal Protection Orders.

You may ask for specific protections when you prepare your petition, but the judge will decide what your order will prohibit.

How Do I Get a Sexual Assault PPO?

Prepare and File Your Petition

To ask the court for a sexual assault PPO, prepare and file a petition. You can use the Do-It-Yourself Personal Protection Order (PPO) tool to prepare your petition. File the petition at the circuit court in any Michigan county. 

If the Respondent is a minor, file it in either the county where you live or the county where the Respondent lives.

Emergency Order

You might be afraid you will be harmed if you don’t get a PPO right away. You might be afraid you will be harmed if the Respondent learns you are asking for a PPO. If so, you can ask for an emergency order called an ex parte order. If the judge gives you an ex parte PPO, you won’t have to wait for a hearing to get your order. The Respondent won’t know you are asking for a PPO until after you get your order.

An ex parte order is effective as soon as the judge signs it. It is valid for at least 182 days. The order will include the date that it expires. You must arrange for delivery (service) of the ex parte order on the Respondent. The police have limited authority to arrest a respondent who violates a PPO but has not been served a copy of the order.

Court Hearing

If you did not request an ex parte order in your petition, the court will schedule a hearing to decide whether to give you a PPO. Or, if the judge denies your petition for an ex parte order, there will be a hearing if you request one within 21 days.

Before the hearing date, you must have the Respondent served with the court papers. For detailed instructions on having the Respondent served, go to Filing for a Personal Protection Order — Non-Domestic Sexual Assault, select your county, and find step 6 in the second set of instructions. Step 6 is titled "Have the Respondent served with the documents."

There may also be a hearing if the judge grants you an ex parte order. The Respondent can file a motion asking the judge to change or end the ex parte PPO. The Respondent must file the motion within 14 days of getting notice of the PPO. If the Respondent files a motion to modify or terminate the PPO, there will be a hearing where the judge will decide whether to continue, change, or end the ex parte order.

At a court hearing, you and the Respondent will each have the chance to speak and may be able to ask each other questions. You may also be able to call witnesses and show the judge other evidence.

If the court schedules a hearing, you may want to consider hiring a lawyer to represent you. Representing yourself at a hearing is not easy. You must follow the same rules lawyers must follow, such as the Michigan Rules of Evidence.

To learn more about what to expect at a court hearing, see What to Expect When You Go to Court.

What You Need to Prove

If the Respondent was convicted of sexually assaulting you, the judge must give you a PPO. If you’re under 18 and the Respondent was convicted of giving you obscene material, the judge must give you a PPO. 

The judge can issue a PPO even if the Respondent has not been convicted of a crime against you. For this to happen, you must prove the Respondent sexually assaulted you or threatened to sexually assault you. The level of proof you need is a preponderance of evidence. This is a lower level of proof than what is required in a criminal case.

If you are younger than 18, evidence that the Respondent gave you obscene material is evidence that they threatened you with sexual assault.

If you are asking for an ex parte PPO, the judge will make a decision based on your petition alone. The judge will give you a PPO if the judge decides both of the following:

  • Your petition shows you are entitled to a PPO; 
  • There would be immediate harm to you in the time it would take to give the Respondent notice of a hearing, or the Respondent would try to harm you if they learned you were asking for a PPO.

You don’t have to have police reports or medical documents to get a sexual assault PPO. But if you do have them, you can attach copies to your petition. They can help the judge understand what happened to you.

If you have a court hearing, you can present these documents as evidence. Even if you do not have these things, your testimony (what you say in court) is still evidence.

What Will My Sexual Assault PPO Say?

A sexual assault PPO will say:

  • That your order is effective immediately and can be enforced anywhere in Michigan

  • That once it is served, the PPO may be enforced anywhere else in the United States

  • What actions the Respondent is prohibited from doing

  • When your order expires

  • What can happen if the Respondent violates your order

  • The name of the specific law enforcement agency that will enter your order into the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN)

What Happens After My Sexual Assault PPO Is Signed?

Your PPO and petition must be served on the Respondent. Your PPO is enforceable in Michigan as soon as it is signed by a judge, even though it has not yet been served. After your order has been served, it can be enforced anywhere in the United States.

There are several ways to serve the PPO and petition, but you are not allowed to serve them yourself. Have the papers served in a way that keeps you safe. Once the PPO has been served, a Proof of Service form must be filed with the court clerk. To learn more, read Serving Your Personal Protection Order.

Staying Safe with a Sexual Assault PPO

Carry Your Papers

Always keep a copy of your PPO and Proof of Service with you. Keep a second copy in a safe place. You can ask the court clerk for extra copies of the order to give to your work and others who need to know about it.

Safety Planning

While you cannot control the Respondent’s behavior, you can take steps to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Creating a safety plan can help.

Contact your local domestic violence agency for help weighing your safety options and making a safety plan. Another resource is the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence.

Enforcing Your Sexual Assault PPO

If the Respondent violates your PPO, you can call the police and report the violation. Your local domestic violence agency can give you support and information about enforcing your order. You can also file a Motion to Show Cause for Violating Valid Personal/Foreign Protection Order to ask the judge to punish the Respondent for violating the PPO. To learn more about enforcing your PPO, read Personal Protection Order Violations and Enforcement.

Finding a Lawyer

You might decide you want a lawyer to help you. If you have a low income, you may qualify for free legal services. Whether you have a low income or not, you can use the Guide to Legal Help to find lawyers in your area. If you are not able to get free legal services but can’t afford high legal fees, consider hiring a lawyer for part of your case instead of the whole thing. This is called limited scope representation. To learn more, read Limited Scope Representation (LSR): A More Affordable Way to Hire a Lawyer. To find a limited scope lawyer, follow this link to the State Bar of Michigan lawyer directory. This link lists lawyers who offer limited scope representation. You can narrow the results to lawyers in your area by typing in your county, city, or zip code at the top of the page. You can also narrow the results by topic by entering the kind of lawyer you need (divorce, estate, etc.) at the top of the page.

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