Having a protective order or no-contact order placed against you can be incredibly stressful. It can prevent you from going back to your home, losing custody or contact with your children, and/or land you in the slammer. So, what is the difference between civil protective orders and a no-contact order? Keep reading to find out.
Protective Orders Explained
Protective Orders are civil (can be quasi-criminal) matters and no-contact orders are criminal matters. No-contact orders are placed against a defendant in a criminal matter if the court believes there is “probable cause” that a defendant committed a certain crime, such as domestic assault or harassment. A civil protective order is placed against respondents/defendants if the court believes by a “preponderance of evidence” that the respondent/defendant domestically assaulted the plaintiff.
Probable cause refers to a legal requirement that there must be a reasonable basis to suspect a crime and evidence to support the need for an arrest. In other words, an arrest cannot occur without evidence to support the idea that a crime has or could be committed.
For example, an officer is on patrol on main street when they notice a person running with a duffle bag. The bag drops and splits open to reveal money, jewelry, and a firearm. Then, a call comes over the radio that the local pawn shop has been robbed. The officer has probable cause to believe that the person with the duffle bag could be the suspect.
The preponderance of evidence standard is much easier to prove than the probable cause standard. This evidentiary standard requires that proof be evident when the fact finder or judge is convinced that there is a greater than 50% chance that the claim is true. In other words, as long as the court is convinced that the likelihood of the claim is high, then it may proceed with the case.
In general, though, both standards are pretty low burdens placed on the filing party.
Penalties for Violating a Protective Order or No-Contact Order
If you violate either a no-contact order or protective order, the court can impose a sentence of up to 180 days in jail and a $500.00 fine, BUT one must serve a jail sentence. It should be importantly noted that if a person violates a no-contact order, the minimum contempt sentence is 7 days in jail.
If you are facing having a civil protective order placed against you or are facing a contempt hearing where there is a potential for jail time, you should not hesitate to contact a defense attorney who works in this area.
Warning Signs That a Someone Has Filed a Protective Order Against You
If you are unsure whether a protective or no-contact order has been filed against you, some key indicators can provide insight. To start, find out if you have been accused of domestic assault, assault, or harassment. If so, the person who reported you could be pursuing a protective order.
However, if you have been formally charged with assault or harassment, you likely already have a protective order against you. If this is the case, you may need to find out if it is a protective order, no-contact order, or both. Depending on your circumstances, it could potentially be both.
Has a Protective or No-Contact Order Been Issued Against You?
If you have confirmed that a protective or no-contact order has been issued, you still have legal options. In many cases, these orders are temporary meaning they will only last for as long as the issuer and/or the court deems to be reasonable. It is also possible to modify an existing order by filing a modification petition with the court.
While you also have the option to pursue cancellation of the court order, the process can be complicated, and you should never attempt to do it without an attorney. At Feld Law Firm we believe in providing honest and straightforward guidance backed by experience. Our team has handled hundreds of cases, and we never back down from a trial.
Entrust your protective or no-contact order case to Feld Law Firm today!