Oh, Gary and Amber. Their love is so hot and cold. One day he is proposing on the beach, and then, next thing you know, Amber is attempting to push him down the stairs (not an easy feat, as Gary must top 250 lbs). Maybe I shouldn’t be too hard on them though. After all, life can get pretty crazy when you have a baby at seventeen.
And then sign a lucrative reality deal with MTV.
Come on, now. Don’t even act like you don’t know who I’m talking about. We have all seen Teen Mom. And I suspect that I’m not the only one who has spent six hours on the couch, watching the marathon...
Even though it is likely that some rating-savvy producers encouraged/scripted/edited the altercations in the name of entertainment, the law was not amused. In December, Amber was arrested and charged with felony domestic battery and child neglect after an episode showed her slapping, choking, and kicking the father of her child. Her arrest also resulted in a temporary restraining order, prohibiting her from having any contact with Gary.
However, with the promise of a little Valentine’s romance in the air, it seems that Cupid has brought the duo back together again. On Wednesday, Gary went before a judge to request that the no-contact order be lifted. He explained that he never wanted the order in the first place and that they are working on being a family again, with an end-goal of marriage in mind. His request was granted with one caveat–the two are still forbidden to be together in front of their daughter. Probably a wise decision. I mean, TV crews are one thing, but seeing her parents fight again could really mess that girl up.
Amber and Gary aren’t the only “celebrities” who have recently sought a bit of a legal reconciliation. Earlier this week, Rihanna consented to Chris Brown’s petition to ease his restraining order. However, her reasons are less about love and more about ensuring that the Grammys go off without a hitch. Under the original order, Brown was made to stay fifty yards away from RiRi (ten yards if they were at the same event). It has now been reduced to a level one order, meaning that they can walk the red carpet at the same time and Chris may have some contact with Rihanna, as long as he does not annoy, molest or harass her.
Now that I’ve gotten you thinking about restraining orders, you’re probably wondering just how tough it would be to get one against that annoying guy/girl who sits next to you in property, eating full sushi lunches and texting under the desk.
A protective order is meant to protect an individual from abuse by a current or former spouse, domestic partner, intimate partner, housemate, someone he/she has a child with, or boyfriend/girlfriend. It also protects victims of stalking, sexual assault, or sexual abuse who do not have such a defined relationship. So, it looks like you may be out of luck in regards to that irritating seat mate. Eye rolls and pointed sighs will have to suffice for now.
But let’s look into this practical subject a bit further.
It’s important to point out that protective orders in D.C. are granted through a civil action. Therefore, while there may also be criminal charges brought at the same time, the injured individual, not the prosecutor, must petition the court for the order. However, if the petition is granted, any violation may then result in a criminal charge and jail time.
There are two types of protective orders in the District. A temporary ex parte order can be issued the day that one files his petition, without the accused abuser being present in court. The judge must be persuaded that the petitioner is in immediate danger. A temporary order lasts fourteen days but the judge may extend it in additional fourteen-day increments until the final court hearing is completed. A final protective order can be issued when both parties appear and present evidence (exceptions are possible if the accused fails to appear or consents) and the judge deems that there is good cause that the accused has committed or threatened to commit a criminal act against the petitioner. A final protection order lasts up to one year. However, the length may be changed if either party files a motion and proves that there is good cause to extend or rescind it (as we have seen, good cause = dreams of an MTV wedding special)
While protective orders limit physical contact between the two parties, they do much more than that. A judge may also order the accused to vacate a shared home, give up any firearms, return personal property, and provide financial assistance. The petitioner might be reimbursed for related medical costs, property damage and attorney fees. Mandatory treatment programs could be imposed. The judge has a good deal of discretion in drafting the terms of the order, so the petitioner is encouraged to discuss anything that he/she believes is necessary to be free from violence.
So, whether you watch the Grammys or Teen Mom (and you know that you’re going to watch Teen Mom - stop denying it already!), let’s all be grateful that our legal system allows restraining orders to be modified for better TV.