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“No Contact” Means Zero Contact
The judge couldn’t couldn’t have been clearer. Violating an order of protection is forbidden in New York:
“Stay away from Jane Doe wherever she may be. Stay away from her home, her school, her place of business. Don’t communicate with Ms. Doe. Don’t contact her by telephone, text, email, carrier pigeon, smoke signal, ESP, through third parties, or by any other means.”
I was standing right next to you. I heard you tell the judge you understood the no-contact restraining order.
Even though you didn’t seem confused, I explained it to you again, in the hallway outside the courtroom: you can’t have any contact with Ms. Doe – none, zero, zilch.
It’s the Law, Not a Suggestion
You’re tempted to treat the order of protection (“restraining order”) as a suggestion, rather than a command that has the force of law behind it – even though the Court also gave you this command orally and in writing.
I referred you to a guide to orders of protection. I wrote that guide to help you understand how violating an order of protection can affect you in New York.
When the judge orders you to obey an order of protection, that’s the law – written by the judge, and directly addressed to you. It’s not a suggestion.
When you violate the order, you break the law: you could go to jail.
It’s Her Order, Right? Wrong.
The order is for Ms. Doe’s benefit, after all. So she must have authority to permit you to violate it. Makes sense, right?
The order of protection is an order written by the Court. It’s not an order written by Ms. Doe.
Until no order exists, Ms. Doe has no authority to let you contact her. No authority at all.
Setting You Up for a Bigger Fall
Ms. Doe is doing everything she can to persuade you she’s on your side.
She’s also urging you to violate the order of protection:
- Ms. Doe waited for you on the sidewalk outside the courthouse when the judge released you.
- She’s texting 24/7: “Baby, I luv u! I miss u! Come home! No one will ever know …”
- She told your mom she called the police only to calm things down. She’s horrified they arrested you. She pleaded with them not to. She’ll never cooperate with the DA – not in a million years.
It’s so tempting to get back together.
How could the Court even know you’re violating an order of protection? There are so many ways.
List: 10 Ways to Get Caught
Never violate a court order!
If you won’t heed this advice out of respect for the law, follow it because the District Attorney has so many opportunities to prove you are violating an order of protection.
If you’re caught violating an order of protection, police will arrest you again. You’ll be charged with “criminal contempt”. If convicted, you could go to jail for up to a year. Longer, if you’re convicted of a felony.
Here are 10 ways to get caught violating an order of protection:
One: Answering the Door
You answer the door when “domestic violence officers” from the local precinct make a follow-up visit to the home where Ms. Doe and you lived when police arrested you.
Because the no-contact order specifically directs you to stay away from Ms. Doe’s home, you’re violating the order even though Ms. Doe’s home was also your home.
You’re violating the order even if your name is on the lease and Ms. Doe’s name isn’t on the lease!
You’re violating an order of protection even if Ms. Doe lives there while paying no rent, while you remain financially responsible for the lease.
Ms. Doe is seated in the front passenger seat when police pull you over for a traffic infraction.
The order of protection and Ms. Doe’s name both pop up when the officer runs your driver’s license.
You’re seated in the front passenger seat when police pull Ms. Doe over for a traffic infraction.
The restraining order pops up when the officer runs Ms. Doe’s driver’s license. So does your name, and your physical description.
Four: On a Plane
Running your name through a database as you re-enter the US, Customs sees an order of protection against you.
Customs determines you are traveling with Ms. Doe because: a) you and Ms. Doe are walking together, side by side; b) you and/or Ms. Doe admit you’re traveling together; and c) the flight manifest lists you and Ms. Doe occupying adjacent seats on the same flight.
Don’t Violate an Order of Protection
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Five: Conceiving a Child
You and Ms. Doe are the parents named in your child’s birth certificate. Given the date of birth, your child could have been conceived only while the order of protection was in effect.
The birth certificate and a DNA test will prove you violated the order.
Six: Security Cameras
Security cameras at the entrance to Ms. Doe’s apartment building record you entering and exiting Ms. Doe’s building on numerous occasions while the order was in effect.
Seven: Inmate Phone Calls
Rikers Island records all inmate telephone calls, including your calls to Ms. Doe. The DA reviews these recordings in domestic violence cases.
On one recording, the DA hears you speak with Ms. Doe, in violation of the order – telling Ms. Doe that the judge will dismiss your case if she doesn’t come to court.
The DA hears every other recording of you speaking with Ms. Doe. Each conversation is a separate violation of the order of protection. Ten recorded conversations equals ten separate charges that could be filed against you. Forty recorded conversations equals ….
Eight: Family Members
Ms. Doe’s sister Beth knows about the order. She calls the police to tell them that you’re at Beth’s house right now, violating it.
Beth does this because she’s mad at Ms. Doe, she hates you, or both.
Nine: Your Next Argument with Ms. Doe
You and Ms. Doe have a disagreement.
Ms. Doe wins the argument by calling 911, and reporting: 1) She has a restraining order against you; and 2) You’re at her house right now, violating the order.
Ms. Doe suspects you’ve been cheating on her.
Ms. Doe retaliates by showing police all the texts and emails you’ve been sending her since the judge issued the order of protection.
When police arrest you, you show them the texts and emails on your phone, to prove that Ms. Doe initiated communication with you – she begged you to get back together.
Unfortunately, the messages on your phone are additional proof you violated the order.
Tip of the Iceberg
These are typical ways a person might get caught violating an order of protection – not the only ways. There are many, many more.
No plan to violate an order of protection is close to being foolproof.
Respect for the law should be reason enough not to violate an order of protection.
But if the Penal Law doesn’t motivate you, remember Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”
Never violate an order of protection.
Or email Bruce a brief description of your situation: