You are your partner had a fight, and the neighbors called police when yelling and other sounds coming from your home concerned them. When the police arrived, your partner accused you of domestic violence, and now you must navigate the legal system – potentially for the first time.

One of the initial things you could face is a protective order filed against you. That’s a document issued by a court, and it usually means you must steer clear of the person who sought the protection. What is known as an ex parte order can be issued for as long as 15 days, or until a hearing can be held. A permanent order can last a year, and it is renewable.

In Florida, a protective order for domestic violence can be issued if one member of a family or a household is accused of any of a number of acts. They include assault, sexual assault, aggravated assault, battery, sexual battery aggravated battery, kidnapping, stalking, aggravated stalking and false imprisonment.

Protective orders in domestic violence cases are designed to safeguard people who share a specific relationship with the accused. That can be a former or current spouse or domestic partner, a relative by marriage or blood or the other parent of a child. Any household members who have been a victim of domestic violence or have a reason to believe they could become a victim may apply.

Protective orders can be issued in other cases as well, including when two people are dating or have dated within the last six months. Two people don’t have to be married or living together for domestic violence charges to apply.

A protective order is just the first step in such cases. A domestic violence charge can have serious implications, which can include fines, jail time and even deportation for non-U.S. citizens. If you have been accused of domestic violence, legal advice is in order.