For Immediate Release
Contact: Jackie Bryant
Reno, Nevada. Oct. 31, 2016. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, an appropriate time to highlight several of the improved services available at the Second Judicial District Court.
The process of obtaining a protection order against domestic violence starts with a visit to the Second Judicial District Court Family Division (Court) on the third floor at One South Sierra St. in Reno. Women and men who believe they are victims of domestic violence begin in Room 308, the Advocate’s Office, staffed by the Committee to Aid Abused Women (CAAW). CAAW is a local domestic violence agency that provides assistance, shelter, and referrals to local resources that may be of assistance to victims of domestic violence. In addition, the Advocate’s Office assists with the completion of applications for protection orders. Applications require a description of the alleged violence and the protections that are requested. The application is available at the courthouse or online at www.washoecourts.com.
Completed applications are reviewed by a court master or judge who determines whether to issue a Temporary Protection Order (TPO), deny the application, conduct an interview with the applicant, or schedule a hearing to determine if a protection order is needed. About three-quarters of applications result in the issuance of a TPO without prior notice to the accused. These orders are powerful. They can award custody of children, give an exclusive right of possession to a home, and prohibit the accused from entry into the applicant’s or a minor child’s residence, school, place of employment, or other places frequented regularly. TPOs are valid for up to 45 days.
TPOs are available even if the courthouse is closed. All of the family court masters and judges take turns being on-call after business hours and on weekends to issue protection orders when the accused has been arrested for domestic violence. The Court issues about 200 protection orders each month.
Applicants can request that TPOs be extended for up to one year. In addition to the relief available with a TPO, an Extended Protection Order (EPO) can require the accused to surrender firearms, make mortgage or rent payments, and pay child support. EPOs are granted only after notice to the accused and a hearing.
Protection orders are strongly enforced by law enforcement and the courts. Local police and sheriff’s deputies respond promptly to allegations of violation with arrest when appropriate. The Court can impose both criminal and civil sanctions for violations.
During the last year, the Court has conducted a top to bottom review of the protection order process with a goal of making a difference in our community by removing barriers that may have prohibited victims from seeking protections available through the legal system.. The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, which is headquartered in Reno, was invited into the Court to provide domestic violence training to all employees. Best practices, as identified by that organization, were implemented.
A year ago, after completing a TPO application, most applicants were scheduled to return to Court the next day for adjudication. After a TPO was issued, most applicants were directed to the Sheriff’s Office at 911 Parr Boulevard to arrange for the order to be served on the accused. Today, most applications are adjudicated as soon as they are received. In most cases, issued TPOs are then transmitted electronically to the Sheriff’s Office for service. As a result of cooperation among the Court, the Advocate’s Office and the Sheriff, the average time required to obtain a TPO has been reduced from two days to two hours twenty-five minutes. The number of applicants who abandon the process before it is completed has been reduced by seventy-five percent.
Domestic violence is defined by Nevada law as not only physical violence, but also a course of conduct intended to harass that may include stalking, arson, trespassing, larceny, destruction of property, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, injuring an animal, or false imprisonment.
The Court is committed to providing sensitive, efficient service to applicants and fairness to those who are accused. If you have a concern for your personal safety and believe that you, or someone you know are, or may be, a victim of domestic violence please contact the Advocate’s Office at: 775-328-3468 or visit the courthouse at 1 S. Sierra St., 3rd Floor, Reno NV 89501.
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