ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — It's now safer and easier for victims of domestic violence to protect themselves during the coronavirus pandemic.
Orders of protection can be filed online, without the need to go to the courthouse.
The St. Louis County Circuit Court made the announcement in a Thursday release, adding that it's the only judicial circuit in the state -- and one of only a few in the United States -- that allows the option.
"We are concerned about an increase in domestic violence with the stay-at-home order currently in place,” said St. Louis County Circuit Judge Jason Dodson in a press release. “We want to ensure people have access to orders of protection and the remedies they provide without having to leave their homes."
According to the circuit court, thousands of orders of protection are filed annually in the county. Previously, victims would have had to go to the St. Louis County Courthouse in Clayton during business hours to fill out paperwork and wait for a judge to review it.
To file online, victims can visit stlcountycourts.com and download the file on their own computers to fill it out. They can then email the completed file to the court and wait for approval from a judge.
The online application process will soon be available 24/7, the circuit court said. As of Thursday, it's available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon.
The court has also established a domestic violence protocol that ensures there's always a judge on call to review order of protection requests.
As of Monday, county court hearings on orders of protection can also be conducted remotely via videoconference.
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