The Indiana Civil Protective Order Act (“Act”) provides powerful relief to help ensure the safety of certain covered Hoosiers who find themselves in dangerous situations, such as a victim of domestic violence or repeated harassment. However, there are times in which protective orders can also, by design, be used to wrongfully harm an individual who is not a threat to anyone. Unfortunately, in some instances, individuals will have protective orders erroneously entered against them. If you find yourself in such a situation, you may be wondering, “can I appeal the protective order?” or “should I appeal?” In this blog, we look to provide answers to these questions, as well as general insight into the appeal process for protective orders.
In Indiana, the Court of Appeals has jurisdiction in all appeals from final judgments.1 A final judgment is one that disposes of all the claims as to all the parties.2 Aside from specific situations, the general rule is that you can only appeal to what is known as a “final order.” In Indiana, a trial court’s ruling on a protective order is considered a “final order” and can therefore be appealed. An important note to remember if you are considering appealing a protective order is that to preserve your right to appeal, the general rule is that you must file your notice of appeal within 30 days of the court’s entry of your custody order.
You may be wondering, but “should I appeal?” While the decision to appeal is ultimately yours, if you believe that a protective order was erroneously entered, you should give some serious consideration to appealing. The reasoning is that, as our Indiana Supreme Court recently noted “an improperly granted protective order may pose a considerable threat to the respondent’s liberty.”3 The reasoning is that an individual who has a protective order against them is subject to a multitude of restrictions and limitations in their daily life. For example, under federal law, an individual with a protective order may commit a crime if he or she possesses, receives, or buys a firearm. Therefore, before a trial court enters a protection order against an individual, the trial court must be presented with enough evidence that the individual is a present, credible threat to the individual that is seeking the order's safety. If there is insufficient evidence to show a present, credible threat, a trial court may have erred by entering a protective order against you.
The above information is general in nature, and there are exceptions to almost every rule. Appellate practice, as well as the law governing protective orders, is extremely technical. Protective Orders are unique and often complex, but where granted, have significant implications. A skilled attorney can help you to navigate these murky waters if you seek to appeal a protective order. This blog post was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle all types of appeals, be it civil or criminal, throughout Indiana. This blog is intended for general educational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice or a solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.