What is an Order of Protection?
It is a legal document in which a Judge orders someone to follow specific conditions of behavior--that is, tells someone things that they must or must not do. Police can make immediate arrests if they have good reason to believe those conditions have been violated. The point of a Temporary Order of Protection is to maintain peace and provide protection until all the facts have been gathered and the case is heard in Court. When the Court is convinced that someone has committed an offense or endangered the person protected by the Order, a final order is issued.

If you are the defendant/respondent: If you are the victim/petitioner:
To make sure people are protected, the Court has the right to issue an order before all the facts have been heard. The fact there is an Order doesn't necessarily mean you have been found guilty of anything. The fact you have an order means the Judge believes you are in potential or continuing danger. Courts only issue these Orders when there is a serious problem.
Following the Order is your responsibility and nobody else's! If you were present in Court when it was issued, or if you have been legally served with it, then it will be enforced. The Order remains in effect as written until it is changed or terminated by the court. It cannot be changed by an agreement between you and the other person. You can't just decide that part of it "doesn't have to count anymore." If the Order says to "stay away," it won't make a difference to the police that you invited your partner in, or were willing to try to talk. All that will matter is what the Order says.
You are breaking the law if you don't follow the Judge's conditions. It's called Contempt of Court, and you can be fined and/or sent to jail for it. If your situation changes--if things get worse, or if you decide to try and reconcile with your partner--you can ask the court to change its Order. The Court can add new conditions, or remove ones that are in the current Order. Remember, it's the Court's decision whether or not the Order should be changed.
You are the only person who can be charged with violating the Order. If it says you're to stay away from somewhere or somebody, then stay away! Even if that person has invited you in, even if you are convinced you have a good reason to contact that person--the police are going to enforce the Order the way it is written. The Order has to be served on the other person--or they have to know what it says because they were in Court when it was issued--before the police can enforce it.
  Keep a copy of the Order with you. Make sure there's one on file with your local police. If your children are also covered by the Order, give a copy of the Order (and a picture of the other person) to your babysitter and to the school.
  If there is a violation, call the police. Tell them exactly what happened. They will want you to sign a statement, and you may need to return to court to tell the Judge what happened.

This paper gives you basic information about Orders of Protection. It is not intended as legal advice. To find out more, call the Court or consult with a lawyer.

Adapted with permission of the Clinton County Domestic Violence Task Force, NYSOPDV 1/96