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Michigan Protective Orders

A protective order in Michigan, commonly called a restraining order, is classified officially as a Personal Protection Order (PPO). It is an order that is signed by a circuit court judge that allows the police to intervene anytime a person is threatened by another specified person. A restraining order is also commonly referred to as an injunctive order, and it offers injunctive relief, which means that the judge is ordering a person to start doing something that they refuse to do or to stop doing something they want to do. A circuit court judge may issue such an order to restrain or enjoin different kinds of activities or different types of individuals that are covered by the order and it prevents them from continuing to engage in whatever the prescribed conduct might be as is defined by the order.

If someone is unsure of the parameters of their Michigan protective order, it is important for them to work with an experienced domestic violence attorney who can help to explain the order and what restrictions it entails.

Issuing an Order

If a person believes that they may need a PPO or personal protective order in Michigan, then either they or their lawyer can go to Circuit Court and fill out the appropriate paperwork which is then presented to the judge and if the judge believes that it is appropriate to do so, the judge will issue the protective order. Many PPOs do not require an actual hearing or actual in-court testimony.

Such a PPO or protective order has no effect or force of law until it is served on or delivered to the person to whom it is directed. This person then has up to 14 days to contest the validity of the order. They can go in front of the judge and tell the judge that the personal protection order should never have been ordered, that the person that asked for it was lying or that their information was untrue or incorrect in some way. This does require a hearing and most often will require some sort of in-court testimony.

If the person does not meet this 14-day deadline, then they are going to be facing the personal protection order for the rest of the time that it is in effect. For a judge to issue a personal protection order in Michigan, there is a low burden of proof, it is one of the lowest burdens of proof in the justice system, called reasonable cause.

Reasonable Cause

Reasonable cause is slightly more than reasonable suspicion, but it is less than probable cause, it is a low burden of proof and before issuing it, all the court needs to do is consider some of the following evidence to determine whether reasonable cause exists. For example, the judge will look at any testimony that they have available or might view any documents that are presented or any other evidence that might be offered in support of the request for the PPO and both determine whether the individual who would be restrained has any criminal record or if they have been shown to have previously committed or threatened to commit some type of an assault or battery.

The court cannot refuse to issue a domestic relation PPO in Michigan unless they are satisfied that even reasonable cause does not exist. Simply because there is no police report, no medical records, no finding by the administrative agency, or no signs of physical abuse or violence, the judge cannot refuse to issue the PPO simply because none of that exists. This lack of evidence, in and of itself, does not negate a showing of a reasonable cause.

The burden of proof is low but it is on the person who is asking for the PPO in Michigan, so if a person goes in front of the judge and asks for the PPO, they are the one that has the burden of proof, and if they do not meet this burden of proof, then there will be no PPO. A person must show that there is reasonable cause to believe that another person may commit a violent or harassing act against them.

Burden of Proof as Protection

There are a couple of different public policy reasons as to why reasonable cause is used and is the lowest burden of proof. The primary reason is because the nature of the PPO in Michigan, to begin with, is to protect people who are typically vulnerable individuals. They are vulnerable because of their gender, because of their age, or because of the type of relationship that they may have and often those persons do not feel empowered enough to even go in front of a judge to ask for something like a personal protection order, they are fearful and in making steps for whatever reason, they feel they are doing something wrong by asking for the PPO.

It is important to make it relatively easy, so there are people who need PPOs are not deterred by the system from getting them. If the PPO is wrongly issued, the aggrieved party can get back in front of the judge relatively quickly, so the risk of harm in the other direction is relatively low. For these reasons, Michigan has created a system where personal protection orders are intended to be relatively easily to obtain without facing any undue burden or hardship on the person that is asking for the personal protection order.

This is why they do not have to go to the doctor and get medical records or necessarily even show that they have bruises, scratches, or broken bones. All they must do is indicate that they are fearful of those things happening and give up a small amount of persuasive evidence so a judge believes that there is a reasonable possibility that this person is facing the possibility of real harm.