Criminal No Contact Orders

Criminal courts routinely issue orders prohibiting the defendant from having contact with the victim or witnesses in a criminal case. Typically, the order is imposed at the initial hearing and will remain in place for the duration of the case or for a specific period of time unless the court lifts the order. No contact orders come in different forms dependent upon the facts of the criminal case. In a criminal case, the no-contact order is requested by the prosecutor and the request may conflict with the wishes of the victim.

Scope of the Order

A criminal no contact order will typically prevent the defendant from any contact with the victim or witnesses. The defendant will not be permitted to contact the victim or witnesses in person, via telephone, email, text messages, written mail, or through third party contact. In addition, the order will prevent the defendant from going to the victim’s home, place of business, or school. There will also be a requirement that the defendant stay a certain number of feet away from the victim. It is very important that the defendant abide by all components of the no contact order as violating the order is a new crime. Furthermore, the burden is on the defendant to follow the order and he or she cannot respond to attempts from the victim to initiate contact. It is not a defense to violation of a no contact order that the victim sought contact with the defendant.

Domestic Violence Protection Order

A domestic violence protection order is almost always imposed when a domestic violence case is filed. The purpose of the order is to protect the alleged victim while the case is pending. Domestic violence encompasses parties who have a domestic relationship either as a household or family member or persons engaged in a current or former dating relationship. The order will prohibit contact with the victim and may include shared children. The prosecutor will likely request a no-contact order in most domestic violence cases even if the victim opposes the order. The Judge will hear the parties out and evaluate whether an order is needed. In many cases the Judge will impose the order and allow the parties to return after a change in circumstances to request that the order be lifted. A change in circumstances may include the defendant entering into treatment to provide a safeguard against future incidents of domestic violence. Domestic violence protection orders always require the defendant to relinquish any firearms or dangerous weapons.

Criminal Sexual Assault Protection Order

A criminal Sexual Assault Protection Order is usually requested by the prosecutor or a victim when an allegation of sexual assault is made. The order will prevent the prohibited party from having contact with the victim and will be in place for the duration of the criminal case and potentially after the conclusion of the criminal case. As with all No Contact Orders, strictly abiding by the terms of the SAPO is extremely important as violations can result in a separate criminal charge.

Violation of No Contact Order

No contact order violations have implications beyond unauthorized contact with the person who is the subject of the order. In most cases, violating a no contact order can result in criminal charges being filed. The criminal penalties for violating a no contact order can be significant. If there are multiple violations of no contact orders, the offense becomes a felony and significant time can be imposed. If you are prohibited from contact someone, the burden is on you to ensure there is no contact. Violations of no contact orders include: in-person contact, text messages, phone contact, emails or other contact through websites or social networking, passing messages through third parties. Many people assume that if the person they are being restrained from contact initiates the contact that they are permitted to respond. This is not accurate, you must at all times refrain from contact or responding to a person who is the subject of a court ordered no contact order. If you have violating a no contact order and are concerned about potential criminal charges Michele can evaluate your case and help safeguard you in the future.