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Whether a plaintiff wishes to file a PSV or a PFI depends on the facts of the case.
A plaintiff files a PSV when the plaintiff has been a victim of sexual violence. Sexual violence is conduct between persons who are not family members that includes: sexual offenses, endangering the welfare of children, corruption of minors, sexual abuse of children, and unlawful contact with minors and sexual exploitation of children.
A plaintiff files a PFI when the plaintiff is a victim of harassment or stalking AND the conduct is committed by a person over 18 against a person under 18.
Even though each county is different, the legal process follows the same general pattern. The PSVI process usually starts by filling out a form called a "petition" at the local county courthouse. The questions in the petition ask victims to explain why they want protection and to describe the abuse they suffered. In legal terms, the person who wants the PSVI is called the "petitioner" or the "plaintiff". ThePSVI petition also asks the petitioner to tell what they want the PSVI to do. The PSVI Act says that courthouse information and assistance to PSVI petitioners should be provided in both English and Spanish.
After the petition is filled out, a judge will read it and may ask the plaintiff to answer a few questions. The abuser will not usually be present in the court for this. The judge may grant or deny a temporary PSVI order and will schedule a date for a final hearing. A temporary PSVI order will protect a victim and/or children until the date of the final hearing. This hearing will take place within 10 business days. Even if the judge does not grant a temporary protection order, the judge will schedule a final order hearing.
On the date of the PSVI hearing, the plaintiff/victim and defendant/abuser will come before a judge.Both are allowed to have attorneys to represent them at this hearing. If both the plaintiff and defendant agree on the terms of an order, the judge will make it official. If either does not agree, the judge will give the victim and abuser the chance to talk on the record about the abuse described in the petition.
After listening to the testimony, the judge may grant the plaintiff a final PSVI order. Final orders can be in place for any period of time up to and including 3 years.
Always keep a copy of the PSVI with you. If there are minor children protected by the PSVI provide a copy to the children's school or daycare center. You may also give a copy to your employer if you so choose.
A defendant who violates a PSVI order can be arrested and charged with a crime called indirect criminal contempt. The victim may be asked to testify about the violation at a court hearing. If the court finds the defendant guilty of violating the PSVI order, the court can give jail time, probation, and/or fines.
Even though the police may arrest and charge an abuser for indirect criminal contempt, the abuser may be released before the hearing.
It is important for victims to have their certified PSVI orders with them whenever they are traveling. A certified copy is stamped "Certified" in red with a raised seal and initialed by the court.
It is also a good idea to have multiple copies of the order for work, home, and/or school.