When domestic violence issues result in a restraining order or protection order it can substantially restrict your rights. Find out what you can and cannot do while there is a restraining order in place, and what may happen if you cross that line.
The 2 Routes to Protection Orders
Most protective orders happen after an incident of alleged or actual domestic violence. However, they can come about in two different ways:
Mandatory Criminal Domestic Violence Protection Orders
When the police respond to a call for domestic violence and believe there was actual or threatened violence, certain things are going to happen every time:
- Someone is going to be arrested for domestic violence
- That person will have a criminal protective order entered against them
These mandatory criminal violence domestic orders are issued by the criminal judge assigned to the case. They start in the days immediately following the arrest — as little as the very next day — and they usually will continue until the charges result in a conviction or a dismissal. When the charges result in conviction, many of the restrictions in the protection order will continue as terms of probation.
Civil Court Restraining Orders
You don’t have to have an encounter with the police to face a restraining order. Anyone can file a petition to ask a civil court judge to enter a restraining order directly against someone who:
- They are (or were) related to
- They live (or lived) with
- They have (or had) a intimate relationship with
These restraining orders are designed to shield the petitioner (the one who files the request) from:
- Physical violence (or attempted violence)
- Threats or coercion
The judge will review the petition and, if he or she believes the allegations meet the legal standard, may enter a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) for 14 – 120 days to give the respondent an opportunity to raise a defense at a hearing. If that hearing goes against the respondent, a “permanent” protection order will come into effect for as long as the order states.
What You Can’t Do Under a Domestic Violence Restraining Order
Whether you are faced with a criminal domestic violence protection order or a civil restraining order, many of the restrictions are the same. No matter what, the specific language in the order controls, so always read the protection order fully to know what you can and can’t do. However, many protection orders include prohibitions against:
- Visiting or coming near the person (or people) named in the order
- Going to the person’s (or people’s) workplace or school
- Contacting the person (or people) named in any way — phone calls, email, text message, or through social media
- Living in a home shared with the person
- Possessing a firearm or other weapon
It can also order you to attend alcohol, drug, or anger management treatment and undergo periodic drug and/or alcohol testing. The judge may also add additional terms to the restraining order based on particular threats or risks involved in the case.
What if Your Alleged Victim Approaches You?
Often domestic violence protective orders can separate people in intimate relationships based on one incident or a fight taken out of context. While petitioners in civil restraining orders generally want to comply with the order, criminal protective orders can place unwanted restrictions on the alleged victim as well as the criminal defendant. In those cases, or when a civil restraining order grows stale, the alleged victim may be the one to reach out or come to your home. However, the protected person can’t unilaterally end a protection order. Only a judge can do that.
If the protected person or alleged victim approaches you while a protective order is in place, it is your responsibility to walk away, close the door, or hang up the phone. That is also true if you accidentally come in contact with them, such as shopping at the same store, or even if you misdial the phone. Accidental contact is a defense to allegations that you violated a protection order, but you must show that as soon as you realized contact had been made, no matter who started it, you ended it.
What Happens if You Violate a Protection Order
Violating a protection order can result in additional criminal charges. The maximum punishment depends on whether the order was a civil restraining order or a criminal domestic violence protection order, as well as whether you have a history of similar violations.
For violating a civil restraining order, the first offense is a Class 2 misdemeanor with a penalty of 3 to 12 months in jail and $250 to $1,000 in fines. Any subsequent offense can result in a Class 1 extraordinary risk misdemeanor with a penalty of 6 to 24 months in jail and $500 to $5,000 in fines.
Violating a criminal protection order is a Class 1 misdemeanor. On a first offense, you may face 6 to 18 months in jail and $500 to $5,000 in fines. Any subsequent offense is a Class 1 extraordinary risk misdemeanor with a penalty of 6 to 24 months in jail and $500 to $5,000 in fines.
Defending Against Violation of Protection Order Charges
There are a variety of defenses to the charge of violating a protection order — civil or criminal. If you find yourself facing these additional charges, it is important to talk to a criminal defense attorney right away. You may be able to demonstrate that the contact didn’t happen or was accidental, or that other defenses exist to prevent conviction.
At Aviso Law, LLC, our criminal defense attorney Ryan Coward knows how a protection order or restraining order can interfere with your life. We know how to address violation of protection order charges, and help you avoid compounding criminal consequences. We are here to serve you and will see you through the criminal court process and help you petition to modify or terminate any protective order that is no longer needed or appropriate. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.