In the past, victims of domestic violence might find themselves standing in line at the clerk’s office waiting to file a petition, and in the midst of all the other public business happening there, would then have to explain intimate details about the situation to get the petition completed. This changed when Indiana launched its online system to petition for protection orders. For some time now those seeking assistance may do so in the security and privacy of an attorney’s or other advocate’s office while the petition is prepared and filed electronically. Only an original signature is needed on the papers filed with the court.
Because all protection orders in Indiana are to be filed electronically—as mandated in 2009 by the Indiana General Assembly—police officers and FBI agents in the field have access to the most current information about these orders. This includes identification of the protected party or parties, identification and description of the respondent, whether a firearm restriction was ordered, and other important details.
When an order of protection is granted, the petitioner is advised to keep a copy with them at all times. However, that may not always happen. Now that the information is available to law enforcement electronically, this means that if a protection order is filed in one county, and the petitioner travels to another county (or another state), or if it becomes necessary for them to seek police assistance, local officers can access the protection order information even if a copy is not readily available.
In addition to the courts and law enforcement having online access to protection order information, a protection order search is now available on the Indiana Supreme Court’s website. Information about the victim is not included in the online records, but information about the respondent and the order are. In addition, when filing a protection order, the petitioner can ask to be notified electronically—by text message and/or email—of events in the case, such as approval of the order by the court and service of the order on the respondent.
A full listing of advocates throughout Indiana may be found at the Indiana Supreme Court website, as well as more instructional information for clients.•