West Virginia Protective Orders Laws

Domestic violence is no longer treated as simply a family problem. Abusers who hurt and control their current or former family or household members can go to jail for any crimes they commit, like assault or rape. In addition, the victims can request a protection order to help prevent abuse.

What’s a Protection Order?

A protection order is a tool to prevent domestic violence. In the literal sense, a protection order is a piece of paper. However, it’s also a court order that provides the protected individual(s) the ability to call the police if the abuser violates the order. The abuser can then be arrested, possibly conviction of violating the protection order or stalking, and maybe even be sent to jail.

The following table outlines the main protection order laws in West Virginia.

Code Sections West Virginia Code Chapter 48, Article 27: Prevention and Treatment of Domestic Violence
Activity Addressed by Order A protection order can include any of the following provisions:
  • Stop abusing, harassing, stalking, threatening, or intimidating the victim and the minor kids, if any, or placing the victim(s) in reasonable fear of bodily injury
  • No contact with victim
  • Move out of the shared home
  • Can’t enter the school or workplace of the petitioner or his or her household or family members to violate the order
  • Require abuser to attend an intervention program
  • Temporary child custody, visitation, and support
  • Temporary spousal support
  • Prohibition from possessing a gun or ammunition
  • Reimbursement of reasonable expenses from abuse (medical, shelter, etc.)
  • Awarding pet or animal custody to victim and prohibiting abuse of the animal by abuser
Who Can Apply for a Protection Order? A person can apply for himself or herself, an adult family or household member can apply for a minor child or physically or mentally incapacitated incapacitated person who’s unable to file, or a witness to domestic violence who’s been abused or threatened for reporting the abuse.
Duration of Order The final protective order is good for 90 or 180 days, but can be extended for another 90 days if needed.

A protection order can last one year for any of these aggravating factors:
  • Abuser violated a prior protection order
  • Abuser had two or more protective orders entered against him or her in past 5 years
  • Abuser has or more prior conviction for domestic battery, domestic assault, or felony crime of violence against a family or household member
  • Abuser violated a stalking or harassment protection order
  • Physical safety of victim(s) require a longer order

Protection orders can also be extended for longer periods if violated or the victim(s) safety requires.

Penalty for a Violation of Order Violating a protection order is a misdemeanor punished by at least one day and at most one year in jail and a fine of $250 to $2,000.
Fee Waiver Yes, if you’re granted a protection order, you won’t be charged for filing, serving, copying, or other items associated with the protection order. However, if you’re not found to be a victim of domestic violence, you’ll have to pay.
Order Transmission to Law Enforcement A copy of the order is given to the city, county, or state police within 24 hours.
Civil Liability for Violation of Order Yes, you can be charged with civil contempt or contempt of court for violating a protection order.

Help for Victims

If your intimate partner or a family member is hurting you, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or a local resource. If you want help getting a protection order, contact an experienced West Virginia family law attorney or local legal aid organization.

Help for Accused Abusers

If someone is trying to get a protection order from you, you should contact a family law attorney and show the lawyer any papers you’ve been served. You could also need an experienced local criminal defense lawyer if you violate a protection order.

Note: State laws are revised regularly. You should contact a lawyer or conduct your own legal research to verify these stalking laws.

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