Emergency Protection Orders

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Emergency Protection Orders are short term, temporary orders to help protect victims of domestic violence made under the Domestic Violence Intervention Act (DVIA) of Nova Scotia.

An Emergency Protection Order is not right for everyone. It is a good idea to check with your local police, transition house or victim services office to talk about applying for an Emergency Protection Order and to make safety plans for yourself and your children.

To apply for an EPO, you must be over 16 years old and have been subjected to domestic violence by a person with whom you are or have been in an intimate relationship and you live together now or have lived together in the past, OR you have a child or children together, even if you have never lived with each other.

Every EPO that is approved is reviewed by a Justice of the Supreme Court within 7 days.  

NOTE: Please click here for information about Emergency Protection Orders for persons living in a First Nations community.

 

1. What is an Emergency Protection Order (EPO)?

Emergency Protection Orders are short term, temporary orders to help protect victims of domestic violence made under the Domestic Violence Intervention Act (DVIA) of Nova Scotia. 

An Emergency Protection Order is not right for everyone. It is a good idea to check with your local police, transition house or victim services office to talk about applying for an Emergency Protection Order and to make safety plans for yourself and your children.

The Domestic Violence Intervention Act (DVIA) has its own definitions of ‘domestic violence’ and ‘victim.’ Domestic violence is defined in the DVIA as occurring when ‘any of the following acts or omissions [failures to act] has been committed against a victim,’ including:

  • assault
  • an act or omission or threats that cause a reasonable fear of harm to the victim or damage to their property
  • forced physical confinement (not letting you leave)
  • sexual assault, sexual exploitation, or sexual molestation (or threats of any of these)
  • a series of acts that together cause the victim to fear for their safety (this can include stalking, watching, or recording [taking a video of or taping] a victim).

To apply for an EPO, you must:

  • be over 16 years old and
    • have been subjected to domestic violence by a person with whom you are or have been in an intimate relationship and you live together now or have lived together in the past, OR
    • you have a child or children together, even if you have never lived with each other

These definitions must be considered before an application for an Emergency Protection Order can be approved.

Every EPO that is made is reviewed by a Justice of the Supreme Court within 7 days.

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2. Who can apply for an Emergency Protection Order?

A victim or person acting on behalf of a victim with the approval of a Justice of the Peace, or a designated person, can apply for an EPO.

Designated persons are:

  • peace officers, such as the police
  • victim services workers employed by the Nova Scotia Department of Justice, the police, or the RCMP
  • designated employees of a transition house that is a member of the Transition House Association of Nova Scotia.

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3. Where do I apply for an Emergency Protection Order (EPO)?

Applications for an Emergency Protection Order are done over the phone. You do not have to complete any paperwork to apply for an EPO. You can apply for an EPO anywhere in Nova Scotia by phoning 1-866-816-6555, any day between 9 am and 9 pm. Some designated people, like police officers, staff at a transition house or shelter for assaulted women, or victim services workers can apply on your behalf at any time.

For more information on Emergency Protection Orders, please read the Domestic Violence Intervention Act brochure  La loi sur l’intervention en situation de violence familiale

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4. When can a person apply for an Emergency Protection Order?

A victim or person acting on behalf of the victim with the approval of a Justice of the Peace, can apply any day of the week, from 9 am to 9 pm.

A designated person can apply on behalf of the victim at any time.

If you apply for an EPO and it is not granted, you can apply for one again if something else happens.

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5. When is an Emergency Protection Order appropriate?

An Emergency Protection Order is granted only if a designated Justice of the Peace is satisfied that:

  • domestic violence has happened
  • the situation is serious and urgent.

 The Justice of the Peace must look at the:

  • nature and history of the domestic violence
  • existence of immediate danger
  • best interests of the victim or any child or other person in the victim's care.

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6. What can an Emergency Protection Order do?

An EPO can give a victim:

  • exclusive occupation of the home for up to 30 days
  • temporary possession of specified personal property, such as a car

An EPO can give temporary care and custody of a child to the victim or another person.

An EPO can direct a peace officer, such as a police officer, to:

  • remove the respondent from the home
  • accompany the victim or respondent to the home to supervise removal of personal belongings

It can direct the person against whom the order is made (the respondent):

  • to stay away from any place identified in the order
  • not to contact the victim or another person
  • not to take, sell, or damage property
  • not to commit any further acts of violence against the victim

The EPO can also prohibit the publication of the victim's name and address.

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7. What are the offences under the Domestic Violence Intervention Act?

If an EPO is granted, it is an offence for anyone to:

  • fail to comply with the provisions of the EPO
  • falsely and maliciously make an application
  • obstruct any person who is performing any function authorized by the EPO
  • publish any information in contravention of the EPO.

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8. Does an EPO go on the person’s criminal record?

No. An EPO is not a criminal charge, and does not show up on the respondent’s criminal record. However, if the person breaches the EPO (violates one of the terms in it), they may then be criminally charged with the breach.

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9. Where can I get more information about EPOs?

The Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia has several brochures about family violence issues, including Emergency Protection Orders. To access these brochures, click here.

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