If somebody violates a protective order, you could actually go to the Sheriff’s department and you can explain to them that you have this protective order in place. If they violated this protective order, then there could be a warrant issued for their arrest. There are also civil remedies when it comes to domestic violence protective orders. Civil remedies are such that you go to the court and once you go in front of the judge, the person can be held in civil contempt. It might be that they’re required to put up some sort of bond. One example would be if they have to post a $500 bond and then violate the protective order, what would happen then is that they’re going to forfeit the bond.
Another example that exists could be attorney fees awarded if you’re pursuing a civil contempt and now it’s up to the judge as to whether they should be awarded in that amount. Now, the criminal contempt does have a little bit more teeth to it for violation of a protective order. It is a misdemeanor in West Virginia and it is a jailable offense. Another consequence that could happen if the person is found guilty, they can lose rights to own a firearm. Now, just having the protective order in place means that on a temporary basis they cannot possess a firearm, but if somebody is criminally charged, they can actually completely lose their rights to own a firearm now and in the future.
Many reasons do exist why you might want to pursue a civil remedy versus a criminal remedy. Let’s say that you’re dependent upon that person for child support and you think that if you file a criminal charge against somebody, then they might lose their job. That’s one example as to why you might not want to file a criminal charge. It’s really important that you speak to somebody in a situation like that, in particular an attorney, about what route you should go prior to doing it because there could be real consequences for you. Something you always have to keep in mind is what will happen if you file some sort of criminal charge against the person, how is this going to affect yourself because consequences of the other party getting in trouble could come back and hurt you as well.