A Temporary Protective Order (TPO) is a legal document issued by a court to help victims obtain protection from persons abusing, harassing, or stalking them. A TPO will generally prohibit contact between parties and may remove or restrict someone from a certain place or residence. The following must occur before a judge will consider issuing a TPO:
- A recent act of family violence.
- The victim, or someone acting on behalf of the victim, must complete a petition requesting that a TPO be issued.
- Once the petition is completed, the victim will speak to a judge.
- If the judge finds that the order should be issued, papers will be filed at the clerk's office. The sheriff's office will receive a copy of the order so that the defendant can be served with the order.
- If the defendant violates the provisions set forth in the order, he/she can be held in contempt of court and possibly be arrested for a criminal violation. Any violation of the order should be reported to law enforcement and the courts.
Conditions for Application
Under Georgia Law, an application for a TPO can be made without the assistance of an attorney and there are no fees involved. An application for a TPO can be made if an act of family violence has occurred in one of the following situations.
- Past or present spouses
- Parents of the same children
- Parents and children
- Stepparents and stepchildren
- Foster parents and foster children
- Persons living or formerly living in the same household.
Where do I get a TPO issued?
Generally, a TPO is issued through the Superior Court of Newton County. If the perpetrator is not a Georgia resident, the order may be issued in the county where the abuse occurred.
How long will the TPO be in effect?
Both the perpetrator and the victim will have to appear before a judge within 30 days of the original order to determine whether or not the TPO should be extended for up to six months.
What if the TPO is violated?
A criminal violation of a protective order pursuant to Georgia Law (O.C.G.A. 19-13-6(b)) may occur only if the order states that the defendant has been evicted or excluded from the residence of the victim. Violations of other orders, generally referred to as "no contact" orders, will be handled through civil contempt actions. However, violations of TPO provisions can possibly lead to other criminal charges.
If you believe a violation of a TPO has occurred, contact law enforcement and the judge's office to report the violation. If the responding law enforcement agency determines that a criminal violation has occurred, the defendant may be arrested. If no criminal violation has occurred, the judge may place the case or the calendar for both parties to appear at a contempt hearing.
What protection can this TPO give me?
Pursuant to Georgia Law (O.C.G.A. 19-13-4), a TPO can:
- Direct a party to refrain from family violence acts.
- Grant a spouse possession of the residence or household of the parties and exclude the other spouse.
- Require a party to provide suitable alternate housing for a spouse and his/her children.
- Award temporary custody of minor children and establish temporary visitation rights.
- Order the eviction of a party from the residence or household and order assistance to the victim in returning to it, or order assistance in retrieving personal property of the victim if the respondent's eviction has not been ordered.
- Order either party to make payments for the support of a spouse as required by law.
- Order either party to make payments for the minor children as required by law.
- Provide for possession of personal property of the parties.
- Order a party to refrain from harassing, interfering with, or contacting the other.
- Award costs and attorney's fees to either party.
- Order either or all parties to receive appropriate psychiatric or psychological services as further measure to prevent the recurrence of family violence.
- Always keep a copy of the order with you. Keep copies of the order at other places you frequent such as school, daycare, relative's home, work, etc. If you believe a TPO is being violated, report this violation to law enforcement immediately.
- Keep all evidence of violence such as photos, caller ID information, phone records, cards, and letters and document each contact or violation.
If you are being followed, contacted, or harassed, contact law enforcement immediately.
- Don’t let the defendant violate the order, which means do not contact him/her once the order is in effect. This type of contact may invalidate the order.
IF YOU FEEL YOU ARE IN DANGER CALL 911
Limitations of a TPO
A TPO is a court document ordering someone to stay away, but is not a bulletproof vest that can prevent danger or some force that will physically keep a person from harming you. Other things that can be done to ensure your safety:
- Make a safety plan detailing where you and your children will go and what you will do in the event of an emergency.
- Keep a bag packed and safely stored away with items you will need.
Information courtesy of Haven House
Warning: The following article contains some details that may be disturbing to more sensitive readers.
The first call came in to 911 dispatchers around 10:20 p.m. Sunday night from a young woman complaining of harassing phone calls. Before deputies from the Newton County Sheriff’s Office could reach her, another call came in of a person shot.
When deputies arrived at the Liberty Gas Station off Crowell Road at the intersection of Almon Road roughly 10 minutes later, 19-year-old Audrey Atkinson lay dead, her body riddled with bullets and her killer nowhere to be seen.It took deputies approximately seven hours to identify the person they believed responsible, Atkinson’s ex-fiancé, 22-year-old Anthony Michael Barrow. He had barricaded himself in a home the couple once shared with their infant son.
Following a stand-off that lasted more than four hours and involved several negotiators and the use of "distractionary devices," Covington/Newton County SWAT Team members forced their way into the home just as they heard a shot. Inside they found Barrow suffering from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He was transported to Grady Hospital where he later died.
Atkinson’s call for help Sunday night was not the first she had made. Her blog paints the picture of a young, happy family. Her first post in November 2009 talks about her then 4-month-old and her life as a new mom.
"I figured that I needed to have something to look back on that reflected my life," she wrote. "…Anthony and I have been together for almost two years… We’ll do everything in our power to always stay together and provide the best life for [her son]."
On Jan. 28, she wrote about the couple moving into their new home and how Barrow’s grandparents had moved in with them. Her last post on Feb. 22 talks about her son having a sinus infection and her hope that spring would arrive soon so the baby could play outside more. Less then two weeks later, things in her life appear to have changed rapidly.
According to her Facebook page, she went from being "engaged" to "single" on March 2, and on that same day became a fan of "If I Could Delete You From My Life That Would Be Amazing." At 2 p.m. March 3, Atkinson called officers from the Conyers Police Department to her workplace to complain of threats being made toward her.
Conyers Police Department did not include Barrow’s name in the report, but according to NCSO Corporal Anthony Washington, their investigation revealed that he was the person she was referring to in the complaint.
In the report Atkinson tells the officer that her ex-boyfriend had "made harmful threats to her earlier this date while speaking with him over the phone." She also told officers, according to the report, that she received a call on her cell phone while taking her son to his babysitter’s and the two had gotten into an argument over the status of their relationship.
Barrow reportedly told her at that time "your days are numbered" and "we will meet again very soon." When informed by Atkinson that she had taken out a Temporary Protection Order against him, Barrow allegedly responded, "You don’t keep me from anything." When she asked him what he meant by the statement, he reportedly told her, "Don’t worry about it; just know I will see you again very soon."
Atkinson also told the officer that she had told Barrow she was moving out on Feb. 27 following an argument, an announcement Barrow did not take well, according to Atkinson’s report.
While packing, Barrow allegedly "pushed her to the ground and then kicked her;" he also made several threats, according to the report. At one point Barrow reportedly, "made several threats telling her he was going to kill her and made their son kiss one of the bullets… Atkinson said he told her he was going to kill her with the bullet [their son] kissed."
Atkinson did seek out a TPO against Barrow on March 2. He was served the paperwork on March 3 and was ordered to be in court March 15.
Family members of Barrow’s stood across Ga. Highway 162 Monday morning and one elderly women collapsed into the arms of loved ones, while a younger woman screamed "why?" and sobbed as sirens blared and an ambulance sped away with Barrow.
Atkinson’s family did not return calls, but her friends, and others who knew her expressed sadness and shock at her violent death.
"Audrey was the most unique person you probably would have ever met," said her friend Molly Rice. "She had an uplifting spirit and such a crazy personality. She could make you laugh till you fell on the floor. Her sense of humor had no end in sight," she continued. "She made friends from just saying Aloha; that’s how we became friends. And that smile of hers… Oh God, she had the biggest smile 24/7. Her son was her complete world. She praised him each and every day. She wasn’t one of those teenage moms who just dropped their life after a baby at 18-years-old; she continued on. She graduated high school, and started attending college. Audrey had her life on track and she wanted the best for her son. Mothering skills came natural to her... Audrey will never ever be forgotten. How do you forget someone that touched our life so much? It’s not possible."
According to Stephanie Waits. who became friends with Atkinson when the two were in sixth grade, they shortly became inseparable.
"We had many spring break trips, played tennis in high school together and we were even twins on one of the twin days at Alcovy High School," said Waits. "There simply are not enough words to describe the over whelming grief that we all have encountered through this horrible tragedy... I want everyone to remember Audrey for the amazing person she is. Even though I am heartbroken by what has taken place, I am even more thankful for the time that I got to spend with her and all the amazing memories we made."