What Can I Do if Someone Won't Stop Harassing and Contacting Me in Virginia?
Aug. 1, 2017
If you're being harassed by someone, you have several different options in Virginia. First and foremost you should tell the person to leave you alone. It's best to do it in writing and in the presence of a witness. But if that's not an option, still make sure the person knows that you don't want anything to do with them. After you've told them to leave you alone, you have a couple option. One option would be to obtain a protective order against the person. Another option would be to obtain stalking charges against the person. Either way, it's best to get in touch with an attorney and law enforcement.
Many states refer to protective orders as restraining orders. But In Virginia, the proper terminology is protective order. A protective order can forbid someone from having any contact with you or anyone in your household for up to two years. A protective order can also just forbid someone from having an violent contact with you. To get a protective order you will have to show that the person placed to in fear for your safety. That means protective orders are not always available in harassment cases. You will have to come to court in order to secure a protective order. If you are nervous about appearing in court you can retain an attorney to appear in court with you. You can also contact the local Commonwealth's Attorney's Office. They have a victim/witness coordinator who can help.
You can also file stalking charges against someone if they refuse to leave you alone. The benefit of a stalking charge is that you don't necessarily have to specifically prove that the person was making threats or placed you in fear for your safety. In Virginia, if you tell someone to leave you alone and to stop contacting you and they continue to contact you, that can be prove that you were placed in fear for your safety. The stalker doesn't have to threaten you.
Also, as a condition of bond, the person will likely be ordered to have no contact with you. If they do have contact with you, they could face more charges and have their bond revoked. If their bond is revoked, they'll be held in prison until the trial, which usually takes at least one month.
Contact an Attorney
At the very least, if it's not an emergency, you should contact an attorney. If it's an emergency and you need to contact the police, you should contact them first, but contacting an attorney before you contact the police can be beneficial because an attorney can advice you about your rights. An attorney can advice you about what you must disclose to the police and what you don't have to disclose to the police. It's important that you are protected and having an attorney assist you can ensure that you're rights will be protected.