Oregon law prohibits violence against family and household members. If you want more information about laws prohibiting violence against family and household members read Restraining Orders and Domestic Violence. For persons aged 65 and older and persons who are disabled, the law provides additional protections. This topic will describe some of the legal protections from physical and emotional abuse. (A related topic, Financial Abuse of Vulnerable Adults, provides information about protection from financial abuse.)
For vulnerable people who are abused, one remedy in Oregon is a court’s protection order based on the Elderly Persons and Persons with Disabilities Abuse Protection Act. The court order is issued to stop certain improper conduct toward a victim, if the court concludes that there is immediate danger of further abuse.
In some cases, the court can even order a personwho lives with the victim to move out. This remedy applies even if the victim is married to the abuser.
The protection order usually lasts for one year, and it can be renewed for a second year if there is a good reason to extend it. The renewal must be applied for before the end of the first order. After a protection order expires, the victim can get a new order by showing new abuse.
To get this kind of protection order, the victim, the victim’s guardian or conservator, or a guardian or attorney-in-fact may file a petition at the court clerk’s office in the courthouse. The clerk has the forms available free. For help completing the petition, the victim may be able to go to the local Senior and Disability Services office, a domestic violence shelter advocate, or a victim’s assistance worker in the district attorney’s office. A victim also may hire an attorney to help in the process.
The court clerk will tell the petitioner when and where to take the petition to a judge — usually the same day or the next day. It also is possible for the petitioner to talk with the judge by phone. Next, the sheriff’s department gives a copy of the petition and the judge’s order to the person charged with the abuse. That person may ask for a short hearing to challenge any of the claims the petitioner has made. If that person does ask for a hearing, the court notifies the victim and petitioner when and where the hearing will take place. It is best to have an attorney at such a hearing. It also is a good idea to report the problem to Adult Protective Services, which can investigate the case and possibly serve as a witness either at the hearing or later in another case.
Obtaining a protection order is quick and usually very simple. If the victim has suffered serious harm, it may also be appropriate to talk with an attorney about a civil suit for damages or a permanent court order keeping the abuser away. In some cases, the improper conduct also may be a crime, and the victim or witness should contact local police.
Legal editor: Janay Haas, July 2009