Indiana courts launch e-file option for protection order requests

Local

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — People seeking a protection order can now request one online without ever stepping into a courtroom.

It’s a step the Indiana Supreme Court is taking to better protect victims of violence and harassment right at the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

It allows those who need a protection order to request one wherever they have access to the internet.

The service is available to anyone trying to escape from a domestic or family violence situation, stalking, sex offenses or harassment.

Harassment was added as grounds for a protection order in the State of Indiana in July 2019. That includes consistent phone calls, text messages, or social media contact and can protect adults as well as children from bullying. Parents can also now file on behalf of their children.

The free online form can be filled out by a victim, advocates or attorneys at any time of the day.

E-filing allows victims to seek a protection order from a safe place like a public library, shelter or their home. There is also a “safe exit” button in case the abuser walks into that space.

Cassie Mecklenburg, the executive director at Sheltering Wings in Hendricks County, said the online document will be the only information the judge receives to make a decision, so it is important it is filled out properly and seeking an advocate could be helpful.

“We want to make sure that they’re filling it out completely, accurately and they’re helping to communicate to the judge the sincerity of the quest as well as the severity of the situation to help them to make an appropriate determination,” Mecklenburg said.

E-filing is available in all 92 counties and trained advocates who can answer questions and assist with the e-filing process are listed for each county online.

You can still file a paper request in the clerk’s office or with assistance from a victim advocate, but attorneys are required to e-file in these cases starting December 2. The new service is now listed as one of the 12 available e-filing service providers within Indiana Courts.

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