If you’ve had a protection order (also referred to as a protective order) filed against you, the court that issued the order will likely schedule a hearing. While it may be related to criminal charges, a protection order itself is not criminal in nature. Do you need an attorney for this kind of hearing? Do you even need to show up in court?

The answers to these questions are yes and absolutely yes. It’s never a good idea to skip a court hearing. Just because a matter isn’t criminal doesn’t mean it isn’t serious. Depending on its details, a protection order can have wide-ranging legal implications, and you have a lot at stake walking into one of these hearings—even if you don’t know it yet.

On top of that, sometimes the effects of a protection order can be highly counterintuitive. For instance, a judge can order you to move out of your own home. If this occurs, you may be ordered by the court to pay rent for the person still residing in the home, even if this person is not on the lease. You may be told you can’t legally possess a firearm, even if you haven’t been convicted of anything.

Every court hearing is a fresh opportunity to make new mistakes. Anything and everything you say at your protection order hearing can be used against you in subsequent criminal proceedings. Seemingly innocent admissions can have unanticipated consequences. You could just try to be honest and speak from your heart, but wouldn’t you rather have experienced legal counsel on your side?

The attorneys at the Marc Lopez Law Firm understand the importance of preserving your rights, and they know what’s at stake when it comes to a protection order hearing. If you or someone you love is subject to a protection order, call the Marc Lopez Law Firm at 317-632-3642. Don’t try to go it alone, and remember—always plead the 5th!