WASHINGTON COUNTY, Va. - Police recommend that you get an Order of Protection if you're in an abusive situation to keep your abuser from being around or contacting you.
Washington County Sheriff's deputies have now told us Kristin Palmer was granted an Emergency Protective Order against her husband, Kevin Palmer, on Monday. It was only hours later that he killed Kristin Palmer, her son, and her mother, according to police.
We talked to officials in Virginia and Tennessee to find out what these orders are protecting you against in each state. "A Protective Order sort of draws a line in the sand," said detective Stephen Reed, with the Washington County Virginia Sheriff's Office.
Reed has been investigating Kristin Palmer's shooting. but he also deals with other domestic abuse cases. He told us that Protective Orders give victims power by making it illegal for their alleged attacker to contact them. "You're telling someone, 'You can't commit further acts of abuse, you're to have no contact whatsoever.' There can be no exceptions depending on what the petitioner requests," he said.
In order to request a petition, Reed says you have to be in a threatening situation. "It has to be something that's defined as physical violence or threat," he told us. "Something that places the petitioner, the victim, the person that wants the protective order, to fear of their life, safety."
Virginia residents can apply for three different Protective Orders.
If you are in immediate danger, a police officer or the victim can petition for an Emergency Protective Order (EMO). "When an officer arrives on the scene of a domestic situation that officer can contact the magistrate and get authorization to issue one right then and there," said Reed. The EMO lasts up to 72 hours or until the court is next in session, whichever is longer, according to the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services.
The next option for Virginians is a Preliminary Protective Order (PPO), which lasts about 15 days. A judge will decide if it becomes a Permanent Protective Order (PO), which is good for two years. In each case, the victim fills out a petition for the Protective Order, deciding how restrictive they want it to be.
Detective Reed told us that Kristin Palmer's petition requested that her husband have no contact with her of any kind. She also asked that he not be able to contact her son or any other household members and family. Palmer's petition gave her other advantages as well. "In this particular instance, it gave exclusive use of the residence to the wife and son," said Reed. "Even though they stayed with her parents, they had exclusive use of the residence."
Palmer was also granted exclusive use of their car.
In Virginia, once the Protective Order is in place, the alleged attacker has to turn in their concealed handgun permit. "It also makes it illegal for him to purchase or transport a firearm of any type," said Reed.
Across the state line, Kaylin Render, a Sullivan County assistant district attorney, told us that rule is even more strict in Tennessee. "For that period of time the Order of Protection is in place, they will not be allowed to have firearms," she said.
We looked at the Tennessee Order of Protection petition and saw that victims are asked to identify whether or not their abuser owns firearms.
Another difference in Tennessee, Render said, is Permanent Orders of Protection are only good for a year, but can be extended up to five years. If the order is violated, the abuser could face a jail sentence of up to 11 months and 29 days and a fine. "Violation of Order of Protection doesn't have to be violent," said Render. "He doesn't have to have harmed her in some way. It could simply be a phone call, it could be a letter."
Render told us it's important for everyone involved to make these orders more than just a piece of paper. "The victim needs to apply to get it," she said. "The prosecutor needs to prosecute a violation of the Order of Protection and the judge needs to order some jail time to get that persons attention."
Detective Reed told us it's also important to pair these orders with safety plans. He said that could involve moving to an unknown location and changing your daily routine.
You can view the Tennessee Order of Protection petition forms here.
You can view the Virginia Protective Order petition forms here.
You can also get copies of the petition forms at the court clerk's office in the county where the offense happened.