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Personal Protection Order Violations and Enforcement


    Enforcing your Personal Protection Order (PPO) is important to your safety. Some people will obey the terms of a PPO. Others will see if they can get away with violating some of the PPO terms. Some people don’t care about the PPO or whether they could get in trouble for violating it.

    You shouldn't agree to behavior that violates your PPO, like letting the abuser in your home if your PPO prohibits it. The abuser can be arrested for behavior that violates your PPO, even if you agreed to it. If you want to change or end your PPO before it expires, you must go back to court and ask the judge to change or end it. You can use our Do-It-Yourself Motion to Modify, Extend, or Terminate a Personal Protection Order (PPO) to do this.

    The police are usually the first to enforce a PPO. They may arrest someone who appears to have violated a PPO. A judge (usually the judge that signed the PPO) then hears the facts and decides whether that person is guilty of a PPO violation. If the judge decides that person is guilty, the judge can:

    • Sentence that person to jail time
    • Impose a fine
    • Both

    A PPO might not be the best option for you right now if you don’t think you are ready to involve the police if your PPO is violated. It might be helpful to talk about this and other safety options with someone from your local domestic violence agency. You can use the "Community Organizations" section on this page to look for help in your area.

    When Is My PPO Enforceable?

    Your PPO is enforceable anywhere in the State of Michigan as soon as it is signed by a judge. This is true even though it has not yet been served on the abuser. Once your order has been served, it can be enforced anywhere else in the United States.

    What Should I Do If My PPO Is Violated?

    If the abuser violates your PPO, you can call 911 or the local police immediately. When the police arrive, show them your PPO and Proof of Service (if you have one). If you don't have a copy of your PPO, the police will look it up on the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN). If you haven't had the abuser served with the PPO, the police should either:

    • Give the abuser a copy of your PPO or
    • Tell the abuser about your PPO

    When the police do either of these things, the abuser is served.

    What Will the Police Do to the Abuser?

    If You Have Had the Abuser Served with the PPO

    If you have your PPO and the Proof of Service, show them to the police. If you don't have the PPO or Proof of Service, tell the police that you have a PPO and that it was served. The police will look up your PPO and Proof of Service on the LEIN computer network.

    The police can make an immediate arrest if:

    • They confirm you have a PPO
    • They confirm the abuser was served, and
    • They have reasonable cause to believe the abuser violated the PPO

    The police do not need to get an arrest warrant.

    If You Have Not Had the Abuser Served with the PPO

    If you have not yet served the abuser with the PPO, the police can either give the abuser a copy of the PPO, or can tell the abuser about the PPO. Once the police inform the abuser about the PPO, they may give him or her a chance to obey it. If the abuser does not immediately obey the PPO, the police may make an immediate arrest without a warrant.

    If the Police Arrest the Abuser, What Happens Next?

    There Will Be an Arraignment

    As long as the abuser is at least 18, he or she will be taken to court within 24 hours of arrest to set a bond or hold an arraignment on criminal contempt charges.

    At the arraignment, the abuser will be advised of the contempt charges and may be appointed an attorney. If the abuser pleads “not guilty,” the court will schedule a hearing on the contempt charges. The court will also set bond, unless the judge decides that you will not be safe if the abuser is released before the hearing.

    There May Be a Hearing on Contempt Charges

    If the court schedules a hearing, it will notify the prosecuting attorney. The prosecuting attorney will prosecute the contempt charges unless:

    • You get your own attorney to prosecute the contempt charges;

    • The prosecuting attorney decides the PPO was not violated; OR

    • The prosecuting attorney decides that it would not be in the interests of justice to prosecute.

    The hearing on contempt charges must take place within 72 hours of the arrest. At the hearing both sides will be able to present witnesses and other evidence. Each side will be able to cross-examine the other’s witnesses. A judge will hear and decide the case. There won't be a jury.

    The Judge Will Decide Whether the Abuser Is Guilty or Not

    The burden of proof at a criminal contempt hearing is beyond a reasonable doubt. This is the same as in other criminal cases. To prove criminal contempt, the prosecutor must show that the abuser:

    • Willfully disregarded or disobeyed the PPO, and
    • Clearly and unequivocally violated the order.

    The violation must be on purpose, not an accidental violation.

    The Abuser Will Be Sentenced

    If the abuser is found guilty of violating the PPO, the judge will decide on the sentence. For each violation the abuser could be ordered to:

    • Serve up to 93 days in jail
    • Pay up to a $500 fine
    • Pay you for things like damaged property or medical bills for

    These penalties are in addition to any criminal prosecution the abuser faces for the same behavior. For example, if the abuser violated the PPO by hitting you, he or she could face assault and battery or domestic assault charges in addition to criminal contempt charges.

    What If the Abuser Was Not Arrested for the PPO Violation?

    The police might not be able to arrest the abuser if the abuser is not at the scene when the police arrive. Sometimes, the police will not make an arrest because it doesn’t appear that the PPO was violated. If the police don't arrest the abuser, you can still try to have your PPO enforced. Contact the police station directly, and ask to speak to someone about why the abuser was not arrested. If you know where the abuser is, you can ask the police if they will try to find the abuser and make an arrest. You can also call the prosecutor’s office to explain to someone what happened, and ask for help enforcing your PPO.

    You can also start the contempt process yourself by filing a motion to show cause in the court that issued your PPO. If the judge decides that a violation may have happened based on what you said in your motion, the judge will schedule a hearing or issue a bench warrant for the abuser's arrest. If a hearing is scheduled, you will have to serve the motion and a notice of the hearing at least seven days before the hearing. Once your motion to show cause is filed, the contempt case will continue in the same way as contempt cases that start with an arrest (see above).

    You can also contact your local domestic violence agency to ask for help with the process of enforcing your PPO. You can use the "Community Organizations" section on this page to look for help in your area.

    How Does Enforcement Work If the Abuser Is a Minor?

    PPO enforcement proceedings are different for minors and adults. If the abuser is under 18 you should still call 911 for a PPO violation. The police can still take the abuser into custody immediately if the PPO has been served. However, once the abuser is brought to court, the process and the penalties will be different from those used with adults.

    What If My PPO Is Violated Outside of Michigan?

    If your PPO is violated outside of Michigan, the law of that state will control enforcement. For example, Michigan law allows the police to make a warrantless arrest for a PPO violation. The law in a different state may or may not allow warrantless arrest. If you are outside of Michigan and your PPO is violated, call 911 or the local police immediately. The police should be able to explain the enforcement process in that state to you. They may also refer you to a local domestic violence agency that can help you.

    If I Have a PPO from Another State, Will It Be Enforced in Michigan?

    Yes. In Michigan, the police can make a warrantless arrest of a person for violating a different state’s protection order. In making the arrest, an officer can rely on a copy of the other state’s order. The order must appear to be valid and still in force. It must contain all of the following:

    • The parties’ names

    • An issuance date that is 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