Military Protective Orders
Military Protective Orders (MPOs) are used to control the behavior of military personnel accused of domestic and/or child abuse. The purpose is to protect alleged victims while a domestic violence investigation is conducted. Unfortunately, Military Protective Orders can be issued without any proof that abuse actually exists. These protective orders can significantly impair your freedoms and liberties as a member of the military.
If you have been served with a Military Protective Order, it is important to seek legal assistance immediately. Contact us to schedule a free consultation with our military attorneys today.
Understanding Military Protective Orders
Why Are Military Protective Orders Used?
Military Protective Orders must only be issued to achieve four primary goals:
- Protect victims of domestic abuse
- Minimize domestic disputes and disturbances
- Encourage the servicemember to maintain good order and disciple; and
- Give the victim time to pursue remedies and protective measures in civilian court.
Who Can Request a Military Protective Order?
Military Protective Orders are intended to protect military family members who have been the victim of domestic violence and abuse. However, victims are not the only individuals who can request a Military Protective Order. The following may submit a request for a protective order:
- Victim’s Advocate, and/or
- Law enforcement officers.
Who Can Issue a Military Protective Order?
There is no formal hearing to determine whether or not a Military Protective Order should be granted. Instead, Military Protective Orders are issued by a military servicemember’s unit commander. Your commander will receive a request for assistance and determine if issuing a protective order is appropriate.
In order to issue a protective order, your commander must believe that:
- You have committed an offense that can result in a court-martial; and
- The terms of the MPO are necessary given the specific circumstances of the case.
In most cases, however, commanders will issue a Military Protective Order even if there is little to no evidence to support the allegations of abuse. Why? Protective orders help to shield your commander from any repercussions or backlash that may arise from the domestic dispute.
What Happens When a Military Protective Order is Issued?
Military Protective Orders are typically issued in writing by using DD Form 2873. This Form serves to notify both the servicemember and the victim of the Order and its terms. When a Military Protective Order is issued, you may be subject to any or all of the following terms.
No Communication: Your MPO can prohibit you from contacting or communicating with the protected person, whether directly or through a third party. Communication can include face-to-face, telephone, email, text, letters, or FAX.
Keep Your Distance: Your MPO can also prohibit you from going near the protected person and their family. You may be prohibited from visiting certain places or going to certain locations at certain times. You may also be required to keep a minimum distance (as set by your commander) from the protected person.
Vacate Military Residence: If you live in a military residence with your family, you may be required to leave the premises.
Stay in Temporary Housing: When you are required to vacate your primary residence, the military may provide you with temporary housing. You will be required to stay at these quarters for the duration of the Order.
Counseling: Your MPO may also require you to enroll in and complete mandatory counseling.
Weapons: Your commander can require that you surrender your government weapons custody card and/or dispose of any firearms that you have access to.
Other: Your MPO can realistically impose any prohibitions, requirements, or conditions that may be deemed necessary to minimize further disputes and protect the victim(s).
How Long Does a Military Protective Order Last?
Unfortunately, federal law states that military protective orders can essentially be indefinite. Specifically, 10 U.S. Code § 1567 states that an Order shall remain effective until your commander
- Terminates the Order, or
- Issues a replacement Order.
However, the MPO will only be valid as long as you are under the command of the officer who issued the Order. The victim has the right to request a replacement if you are transferred to a new command.
Violations of Military Protective Orders
As a member of the military, you are obligated to comply with all orders that you receive. This includes Military Protective Orders issued by your commander. If you fail or refuse to comply with the terms of your MPO, it will be considered a violation of UCMJ Article 92. Article 92 states that it is a violation of military law to willfully disobey or violate a lawful order that you had an obligation to follow.
Penalties for violating your Military Protective Order can include:
- Docked pay
- Administrative Separation
- Non-judicial proceedings
- Dishonorable discharge, and more.
Fighting a Military Protective Order in San Diego
You have the right to appeal the issuance of a Military Protective Order. This process can be complicated, so it is best to have the assistance of an experienced San Diego military lawyer. As your attorney, Vikas Bajaj will thoroughly review your MPO and any evidence that was used to support it. This investigation will help in the creation of an Article 138 Complaint.
Article 138 Complaint
The Uniform Code of Military Justice provides all members of the military to request redress if they believe they have been wronged by their commanding officer. Simply put, you have the right to demand an appeal of a Military Protective Order if you do not believe it is necessary or right. When an Article 138 Complaint is made it must be examined by a superior officer. That officer has the right to grant or deny your request for relief.
If your request is denied, you have the right to appeal the complaint (and supporting documentation and testimony) to the General Court-Martial Convening Authority. This Authority will review your complaint and review the validity of the MPO issued against you.
San Diego Military Protective Order Attorneys
Has your commanding officer issued a Military Protective Order against you? Your MPO can affect almost every aspect of your life. It is important to challenge the MPO if you think it is unnecessary or based on false accusations. Hiring an attorney who understands military law and procedure will help you secure the best possible outcome in your case. Call us for help today. Our San Diego military defense attorneys know that your future is at stake and will fight to protect it.