Protective Orders are more than "just a piece of paper" - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Protective Orders are more than "just a piece of paper"

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EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) -
Reports of individuals being arrested for violating protective orders have made headlines in Evansville. 

Many times those suspects are out of jail just as quickly as they were locked up. 

14 News asked local law enforcement officials if protective orders are effective and are they still relevant?

Our investigation revealed dozens of protective orders and no contact orders are filed and broken every week. 

Victims told 14 News that protective orders "are nothing more than a piece of paper" and they don't truly have the power to protect a person. 

In part, that is true. But in the eyes of the law, a protective order is a binding document and if it is violated, criminal charges will follow.

"We do hear that it's just a piece of paper," Robyn Mastison said. 

Mastison works with victims of crimes on a daily basis.

"But without that piece of paper, which was issued by a judge who ordered that, we cannot file additional charges," Mastison added. 

She explained, protective orders and no contact orders are a tool to protect people.  

According to the Vanderburgh County Clerk's Office, more than 1800 protective orders were filed in the county last year. 

"People need to take no contact orders and protective orders very seriously," Mastison said.

Individuals that violate those orders can be charged with invasion of privacy.

And that's exactly what happened when Evansville Police say former Officer Steve Hicks violated a protective order filed by his ex-girlfriend. 

Invasion of privacy is an A Misdemeanor.

"The possible penalty is up to a year in jail, and with a pretty substantial fine is also a possibility," Deputy Prosecutor Levi Burkett explained.

"The reality is, invasion of privacy violators, don't get put into jail for a year," Burkett added. 

But in the case of Terry Daugherty, police said he was violating a protective order when they were called to a home near Pollack last month.

Daugherty was shot by police after he threatened to kill a woman and himself. He is still in the hospital and charges are pending.  

Prosecutors said the majority of protective orders are respected. 

So far this year, 410 protective orders have been filed in Vanderburgh County.

The prosecutor's office has filed charges for violating a protective order in 44 cases. About 10% of the protective orders have been violated. 

"I think it is absolutely necessary that they do get filed. With that court order, it allows police to enforce it," Burkett said. 

Protective orders can be filed at the courthouse and they become effective immediately. 

Officials with Albion Fellows Bacon Center assist victims in filing protective orders. For more information about Albion's services, click here.  

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