With a change effective July 1, 2011, Virginia’s protective order statute will now cover persons in dating relationships. The new legislation expands Chapter 9.1 of Title 19.2 of the Virginia Code from “Protective Orders for Stalking” to “Protective Orders.” Chapter 9.1 now applies to “any act involving violence, force, or threat that results in bodily injury or places one in reasonable apprehension of death, sexual assault, or bodily injury,” as provided in a new section:
§ 19.2-152.7:1. Definitions. As used in this chapter: “Act of violence, force, or threat” means any act involving violence, force, or threat that results in bodily injury or places one in reasonable apprehension of death, sexual assault, or bodily injury. Such act includes, but is not limited to, any forceful detention, stalking, criminal sexual assault … or any criminal offense that results in bodily injury or places one in reasonable apprehension of death, sexual assault, or bodily injury.
Prior to this new law’s enactment, protective orders were available only to victims of (1) family abuse or (2) stalking, sexual battery, or a criminal offense resulting in a serious bodily injury.
Originally, the 2011 legislation included a bill that defined the terms “dating relationship” and “dating relationship abuse.” In the legislative process, the two terms relating to dating were dropped for more general language that more broadly covers conduct, not relationships.
The effort to expand protective order coverage to persons in dating relationships goes back at least to the 2002 session of the Virginia General Assembly, when the Virginia State Crime Commission submitted a report to the General Assembly entitled “Protective Orders in Dating Relationships” which recommended that protective orders be expanded to encompass crimes other than stalking.
The new legislation also makes several other changes to protective order provisions of the Virginia Code, including provisions for family abuse protective orders and penalties for violating protective orders, which all go into effect on July 1st.
Livesay & Myers has a team of family lawyers across offices in Fairfax, Leesburg, Manassas and Fredericksburg, handling protective orders for clients throughout Northern Virginia.
Whether you are seeking a protective order, or defending yourself against a request for a protective order against you, contact us to schedule your consultation with a family lawyer experienced with handling protective orders in Virginia today.