MILITARY PROTECTIVE ORDERS
Military Criminal Defense Attorney
A Military Protective Order (MPO) is a short-term order issued by a unit commander against an active duty service member under his or her command. There is no hearing involved in the process. Generally, an MPO is supposed to be issued upon the request of a victim or victim's advocate. The reality is that MPOs are highly abused by commanders.
The law permits commanders to issue MPOs under 10 US Code § 1567(a). They are often issued by a commander for the unstated purpose of protecting the commander against backlash in domestic abuse cases - though officials would never admit that. Violations of MPOs can be charged as violations of orders under Article 90, UCMJ.
How MPOs are issued
Protective orders can be issued verbally or in writing. The orders are most commonly in writing on a DD Form 2873. The Department of Defense Instruction on the matter, and the DD Form 2873, clearly state that the MPO is intended to:
- Safeguard victims;
- Quell disturbances; and,
- Maintain good order and discipline while victims have time to pursue protection orders through civilian courts.
Protective orders are often indefinite - which can cause all sorts of problems for a service member.
They will order a service member to maintain a certain distance from an alleged victim and prohibit communications either directly or through a third party. Lawyers, however, in our capacity as legal representatives can always communicate as appropriate.
A service member can violate an MPO even if the protected person violates the order by approaching them. There is ample appellate case law on that point. The law states that the orders are command-specific. 10 USC § 1567 states: "A military protective order issued by a military commander shall remain in effect until such time as the military commander terminates the order or issues a replacement order."
The implication is that if a service member transfers from an issuing command, the order is theoretically no longer valid. The prudent course of action, however, is to continue to comply with the protective order. DOD policy instructs the issuing command to recommend that the gaining command issue a new MPO. Nonetheless, this can be a grounds for potentially challenging alleged violations of an MPO.
Commanders often impose protective orders for women who don't need or want protective orders. The classic case involves a spouse pending a divorce who becomes involved with a military member. The individual dating the woman pending divorce is often slapped with a protective order prohibiting communications with her. It becomes even more complicated when the woman and military member have become pregnant.
The woman, often, has no desire for a protective order prohibiting communication with the baby's father. It can be helpful for a lawyer to provide lawful communications with a victim or their legal representative to request their assistance in having the MPO lifted. All too often, we see commands issue protective orders in cases where the service members relationship is either intact or being repaired.
Aggressive Military Defense Lawyer
Lawyers can be immensely helpful in communicating with the Commander or Staff Judge Advocate to appeal the protective order. Often, the first step could involve an Article 138 Complaint. Injunctions in civilian cases are an extraordinary type of relief. Civilian courts typically require you to exhaust your military remedies before requesting injunctions.
The bottom line is that protective orders - when baseless or unwanted by the victim - can cause a serious interference with both the service member and sometimes alleged victim's life. A consultation from a lawyer is highly advisable before violating or trying to appeal an order believed to be baseless.
Discuss the details of your case with an experienced military defense lawyer. Schedule your consultation today!
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Daniel Conway Partner
For the better part of the last decade, Mr. Conway has become a nationally recognized resource on military justice. Daniel Conway is a former Marine staff sergeant and captain. He is a proud graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio and University of New Hampshire School of Law. Mr. Conway is recently a former President of the New Hampshire Bar Association Military Law Section and a current member of the DC Bar. Mr. Conway has also written a book on Military Crimes and Defenses that is near publication with a major ...Read More
Gary Myers Partner
Gary Myers is a former JAG officer and one of the most experienced civilian military defense counsel in the country. He attended the University of Delaware where he received his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering in 1965. Gary Myers served as president of his freshman, sophomore and junior classes and went on in his senior year to be president of the student body. Gary Myers then attended the Pennsylvania State University, Dickinson School of Law, and graduated in 1968. Gary Myers paid his way through law school by ...Read More
Brian Pristera Attorney
A Richmond, Virginia native, Mr. Pristera graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. After spending some time as a DuPont engineer, specifically working on Kevlar manufacturing and ballistics applications, Mr. Pristera attended law school at the University of New Hampshire. On July 4, 2010, Mr. Pristera was commissioned in the U.S. Army in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Mr. Pristera spent almost six years on active duty. He spent just over three of those years in criminal defense, ...Read More
Joseph Galli Attorney
Originally from Portland, Maine, Mr. Galli attended Elmira College in New York on a four-year Army ROTC Scholarship. At Elmira, he double majored in Business Administration and Public Affairs. Mr. Galli graduated from Elmira College in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science degree and was Commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army. Mr. Galli began his study of the law in 2009 at the University of New Hampshire School of Law. There, he focused on litigation and honed his advocacy skills as a member of the Advanced Trial ...Read More