What is a Military Protective Order?

A Military Protective Order (MPO) is a legal order issued by a commanding officer that prohibits an accused military service member from contacting the person or persons identified in the order. Learn more about the rules that apply to an MPO and how a military defense lawyer can defend you during any associated legal proceedings.

Why are Military Protective Orders Issued?

MPOs are often issued in response to domestic violence or sexual assault incidents. The purposes of this legal order are to safeguard alleged victims, quell disturbances, and maintain good order and discipline during court preparations. Various parties may ask a commander to issue an MPO, including:

  • The alleged victim
  • A victim advocate
  • A military installation law enforcement agent
  • A Family Advocacy Program (FAP) clinician

The commander is not obligated to issue an MPO and may choose to deny the request. The chances of an MPO being approved are highest if the FAP recommends it as part of its safety and risk assessment. If the MPO is denied, alleged victims may still be eligible for a Civil Protection Order (CPO), also known as a restraining order. It’s possible to get an MPO and CPO at the same time.

Who is Eligible to Get a Military Protective Order?

Individuals protected by an MPO may be service members, civilians, adults, children, or pets who have been harmed by an active-duty military member. The relationship between the alleged victim and the accused should be intimate and may include the following:

  • Spouses or ex-spouses
  • Current or former intimate partners who live/lived together
  • People who are parents of the same child

What Protections are Offered in a Military Protective Order?

The language in an MPO may require certain actions while prohibiting others. The specifics depend on the situation, but here are some of the most common protections afforded by a Military Protective Order:

  • Have no contact or communication with the alleged victim, family members, or household members. This includes face-to-face encounters, phone calls, letters, emails, social media posts, or third-party communications.
  • Stay away from the family home, whether on or off base.
  • Stay away from the alleged victim’s place of employment.
  • Stay away from the children’s schools, daycare centers, or youth program facilities.
  • Move into government quarters.
  • Leave any public place if the victim is in the same location.
  • Attend counseling.
  • Surrender any government-issued weapons.

Where are Military Protective Orders Valid?

MPOs are only enforceable on military bases or installations and only remain valid if the accused service member is attached to the command that issued the order. If the service member is transferred, the MPO becomes invalid. Alleged victims or victim advocates can contact the new commander to ask for a new MPO.

Due to the limitations of enforcing MPOs in civilian settings, alleged victims are often advised to get a Civil Protection Order as well. CPOs are enforceable in both civilian settings and on military installations, making them especially suitable for families living off base. But even if they live on the installation, military family members often attend school, work, visit friends, shop, or dine off base, making a CPO worth pursuing.

How Long Does a Military Protective Order Last?

Unlike a long-term CPO, there is no “due process” for issuing an MPO. Therefore, the protections offered are typically short-term, lasting as little as 10 days. The protection period is typically intended to last long enough for the FAP to gather details about the incident that triggered the legal order. A commander may extend an MPO or rescind it at any time based on the perceived threat to the alleged victim.

What if the Accused Violates the Military Protective Order?

If the accused service member confronts the alleged victim, shows up at the house, or violates the MPO in another way while on base, the alleged victim may contact installation law enforcement. If the family feels threatened while off base, they can call the civilian police. Remember, the police can’t enforce an MPO, but they can arrest the accused if a crime is committed and contact installation law enforcement. Alleged victims can also contact their victim advocate to report the incident, which may suggest that the level of risk has increased.

Violations of an MPO, whether committed on or off installation, are prosecutable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Violating this legal order is the same as disobeying a direct order from a commanding officer, which is an offense under Article 92, Failure to Obey Order or Regulation.

Depending on the severity of the violation, legal proceedings may include non-judicial punishment, court-martial, or other disciplinary measures. Examples of punishments may include forfeiture of pay and allowances, confinement, and bad conduct or dishonorable discharge.

Defend Yourself Against Domestic Violence Accusations or MPO Violations

Have you been issued a Military Protective Order in response to domestic violence accusations? Are you now being accused of violating your MPO? Don’t take these accusations lying down! Joseph L. Jordan, Attorney at Law, can defend you and potentially lower the sentence leveled against you.

Our lead attorney, Mr. Jordan, has over a decade of experience as a military defense attorney and draws from his many years of service as an Army JAG officer. Our team takes an aggressive, uncompromising approach to defending our clients, which has led to a proven track record of success. To speak to Mr. Jordan directly about building your defense, please call us toll-free at 800-580-8034 or 254-221-6411.

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