If there is a Personal Protection Order (PPO) against you, it is important to obey it. If you do not obey the PPO, you could face jail time, a fine, or both. The judge can also consider a PPO violation in a divorce or child custody case.
If you are the Respondent, the PPO lists the specific things you can’t do. For example, if the PPO states that you may not contact the Petitioner, then you may not do it, even if the Petitioner contacts you first. Only you can violate the PPO and be punished by the judge for violating it.
The police can arrest you if they believe you violated a PPO. If you are not arrested, the Petitioner can file a motion to show cause saying you violated the PPO. You will then have a hearing. If you do not plead guilty, a judge (usually the judge who signed the PPO) will hear both sides and decide if you are guilty of a PPO violation. If the judge decides you are guilty, the judge can sentence you to jail, fine you, or both.
If you want to change or end a PPO against you, you must go back to court and ask the judge to change or end it. You can use the Do-It-Yourself Motion to Modify, Extend, or Terminate a Personal Protection Order (PPO) tool to do this.
When Is the PPO in Effect?
The PPO is in effect anywhere in the state of Michigan as soon as a judge signs it, even if it has not been served on you. Once the order has been served, it can be enforced anywhere in the United States.
What Can the Police Do If I Violate a PPO?
If You Have Been Served with the PPO
If you have been served with the PPO, the police can arrest you right away if they have reasonable cause to believe you violated the PPO. They do not need to get an arrest warrant.
If You Have Not Been Served with the PPO
If the Petitioner tells the police you have violated the PPO, the police may investigate. If you have not been served with the PPO, the police should either give you a copy of the PPO or tell you about it. Once the police tell you about the PPO, if you do not obey the PPO immediately, the police may arrest you without a warrant.
After Arrest or Motion to Show Cause
Your first hearing for an alleged PPO violation will be either an arraignment (if you were arrested) or a hearing on the Petitioner’s motion to show cause. If you do not plead guilty at your first hearing, you will have a violation hearing where the judge will decide if you are guilty.
If you are arrested and are at least 18 years old, you will be taken to court within 24 hours for an arraignment on the contempt of court charge. The judge will tell you what the alleged violation is and what your rights are. The judge may appoint a lawyer for you if you can’t afford one.
You may decide to plead guilty to a PPO violation. If you do, the judge will decide the sentence. If you do not plead guilty, the court will schedule a violation hearing to decide if you are guilty. The violation hearing will most likely happen within 72 hours of your arrest, unless the judge grants a motion to extend the time. The judge may also set bond unless they decide the Petitioner will not be safe if you are released before the violation hearing.
First Hearing after Motion to Show Cause
If the Petitioner filed a motion to show cause for a PPO violation, the judge may order you to appear in court at a certain date and time. Or, the judge may issue a warrant for your arrest. At the hearing, the judge will tell you what the alleged violation is and what your rights are. The judge may appoint a lawyer for you if you can’t afford one.
You may decide to plead guilty to a PPO violation. If you do, the judge will decide the sentence. If you do not plead guilty, the judge will schedule a violation hearing to decide if you are guilty.
If you do not plead guilty at the arraignment or first hearing, there will be a violation hearing where the judge will decide if you are guilty. The prosecuting attorney (an attorney who represents the government in criminal court cases) might prosecute the case, or the Petitioner might have a different lawyer. The judge may appoint a lawyer for you if you can’t afford one.
Both sides will be able to ask questions of their own witnesses and the other side’s witnesses. Each side will also have the chance to present other evidence. If you do not have a lawyer, you will be expected to follow the same rules as a lawyer when you ask questions or present evidence. A judge will hear and decide the case. There will not be a jury.
At the violation hearing, the judge will decide if you are guilty of criminal contempt of court for violating the PPO. (It is possible to be held in civil contempt for a PPO violation, but this usually does not happen.)
To prove contempt, the Petitioner must show “beyond a reasonable doubt” that you willfully disobeyed the PPO. This means the Petitioner must convince the judge that you violated the PPO on purpose or with the intent to disobey the PPO, not accidentally.
If you tell the judge you are guilty or the judge finds you are guilty of contempt of court due to violating the PPO, the judge will decide the sentence. The judge can send you to jail for up to 93 days and order you to pay a fine of up to $500.
The judge can also change the PPO by adding more protections for the Petitioner. You may also face criminal prosecution for the PPO violation. For example, if you violated the PPO by hitting the Petitioner, you could face assault and battery or domestic assault charges.
What If I Am Under 18?
Enforcing a PPO against a minor is different than for an adult. If you are under 18 years old, the police can still take you into custody right away if the PPO has been served. Once you are brought to court, the process and the penalties are different from those used with adults.
What If I Violate a PPO Outside of Michigan?
If you violate a PPO outside of Michigan or are accused of doing so, the law of that state will apply. For example, Michigan law allows the police to make an arrest for a PPO violation without a warrant. The law in a different state may not allow that.
If There Is a PPO Against Me from Another State, Will It Be Enforced in Michigan?
Yes. In Michigan, the police can arrest someone without a warrant for violating another state’s protection order. In making the arrest, an officer can rely on a copy of the other state’s order if it appears to be valid, in force, and has:
The parties’ names
Proof it was issued before the date of the violation
Terms and conditions against the person violating the order
The name of the issuing court
A judge or court officer’s signature
Finding a Lawyer
You might decide you want a lawyer to help you. At your first hearing, the judge will appoint a lawyer for you if you want one and cannot afford to hire one. Or if you want to find a different lawyer, you can use the Guide to Legal Help to find lawyers in your area.