Protective Orders in Virginia – FAQ

Here’s some basic information regarding Protective Orders, sometimes called Restraining Orders, in Virginia. 

If you believe you are in danger, call 911 immediately. 


  • Are restraining orders and protective orders the same thing?
    • Yes. In Virginia, Protective Order is sometimes referred to as a Restraining Order, but it refers to the same document. 
  • What is a Protective Order?
    • A Protective Order is a legal document issued by a judge or magistrate to protect the health and safety of a person who is alleged to be a victim of any act involving violence, force or threat that results in bodily injury or places that person in fear of death, sexual assault or bodily injury.
  • There are three types of Protective Orders.
    • Emergency Protective Order – expires at the end of the third day after issuance. You may seek to have the order extended before it expires.
    • Preliminary Protective Order – lasts fifteen days or until a full hearing.
    • Protective Order – may last up to two years.
  • What does it take to get a Protective Order?
    • An Emergency Protective Order is often issued by a magistrate in order to protect someone until they can get to court and seek a Preliminary Protective Order.
    • To obtain a Preliminary Protective Order, you’ll need to go to Juvenile and Domestic Relations (J&DR) Court if the person you’re seeking the order against is a family or household member, is a juvenile, or if you are a juvenile. Otherwise, you’ll go to General District Court.
    • You’ll need the name, physical address (where the person can be found), and identifying information of the person against whom you’re seeking the order. You’ll need to provide a full description of the events leading up to your seeking the order. You’ll also need to bring any relevant documents related to the case (warrants, other protective orders, etc.)
  • Can I contact the person against whom I took out the Protective Order?
    • Unless specifically allowed in the Protective Order, no. If you must sometimes contact the other party you should explain that to the judge when you apply for the Protective Order.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions. Consultations are free and there is no obligation.


This content is for basic informational purposes only and is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice.