For Juvenile law practitioners like myself, this is an absolute nightmare. The “kids for cash” scandal unfolded in 2008 over judicial kickbacks in Luzerne County, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Two judges, President Judge Mark Ciavarella and Senior Judge Michael Conahan, were accused of accepting money from Robert Mericle, builder of two private, for-profit youth centers for the detention of juveniles, in return for contracting with the facilities and imposing harsh adjudications on juveniles brought before their courts to increase the number of residents in the centers. Thankfully this scandal was made public, but similar situations have been reported in other parts of the country and have unfortunately gotten little to no media attention. Check out the documentary “Kids for Cash” on Netflix, a fascinating look at a unique issue in the American Juvenile Law system. http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Kids-for-Cash/70298455
Not too long ago, when I was working as an Assistant District Attorney here in Bexar County, I co-directed a seminar for members of the San Antonio Bar Association regarding the complexities of the Protective Order system in San Antonio and the surrounding areas. At the time, I was the lead 1st Chair Attorney for the Protective Order Division of the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office. Over the next few blog posts, I want to introduce some current issues in the field of Protective Orders that as a citizen, you should be aware of.
This week, I would like to spend some time talking about exactly what a PO is, and what it is meant to accomplish. A protective order is an order from the court that prevents an individual from making any type of contact with another individual, either personally or through a third party. There are many different ways that a protective order can be issued by a court, but they are most commonly used in two different scenarios:
1) Criminal Emergency Protective Order- After a criminal offense, a Judge (typically a Criminal Magistrate Judge) may issue an Emergency Protective Order if he/she believes that the accuser is in danger of being threatened or injured by the accused. These EPO’s, as they are called, are very difficult to get lifted, though they are temporary in nature (often 60-90 days).
2) Civil Protective Order- In certain situations, a Civil Judge may issue a Protective Order against an individual if they believe that family violence has occurred in the past, and that there is a likelihood it could occur in the future. A PO issued by a Civil Judge can last anywhere from 1 day to the lifetime of the accused. Prosecutors typically do not need a large amount of evidence for their case to get a Judge to grant a PO. An experienced criminal defense attorney, however, can attack the State’s case and convince the Judge to deny the motion for Protective Order.
Though these are the most common forms of PO’s here in Texas, they do exist in many other forms. You may be wondering why PO’s are so important to learn about. It is important to note that if you are accused of family violence and have a PO issued against you, there are many severe consequences that could arise, EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT GUILTY OF FAMILY VIOLENCE AND DO NOT VIOLATE THE PROTECTIVE ORDER. Just a few of these consequences are:
· Being charged with a Misdemeanor criminal offense
· Being charged with a Felony criminal offense
· If you have children with the accuser, never being allowed to see your children again
· Alterating of divorce/custody arrangements previously entered by a court
· Losing the ability to own or possess a firearm for your entire lifetime
· Being kicked out of your home
· Losing your job
· Losing various types of licensures
· Losing the ability to visit places you have been visiting for years (churches, nursing homes, schools, etc.)
· Many, many other consequences
As you can see, PO’s can severely affect your liberty. If you are facing a PO, it is extremely important to contact a licensed attorney that understands the complexities of PO’s in order to navigate your way through this confusing ordeal. Next post, I will continue to discuss PO’s as well as address Emergency Protective Orders in more detail.
This Blog is made available by The Law Office of Daniel J. Palmer strictly for educational purposes only, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and The Law Office of Daniel J. Palmer. This Blog should never be used as a substitute for legal advice from a qualified licensed attorney in your area.