No Contact Means No Contact
The judge couldn’t couldn’t have been clearer. Violating an order of protection is forbidden:
“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 when you told the judge you understood the Court’s no-contact restraining order. Even though you didn’t seem confused, I explained it to you again, in the hallway outside the courtroom. All of it.
How will the court know if you are violating an order of protection? There are so many ways.
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 for orders of protection that I wrote, to make sure you understood how orders of protection work.
Setting You Up for a Bigger Fall
Jane’s doing everything she can to persuade you she’s on your side.
She’s also urging you to violate the order of protection:
- Jane 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 …”
- Jane told your mom that she only called the police because she wanted them to calm things down. She’s horrified that they arrested you. She pleaded for them not to. She’ll never cooperate with the DA – not in a million years.
So tempting to get back together. How would the Court even know?
It’s Her Order, Right? Wrong.
The order is for Jane’s benefit, after all. She must have authority to permit you to violate it, right?
Makes so much sense but – you’re wrong!
It’s an order of the Court, not an order of Jane. Until no order exists, Jane has no authority to let you have contact with her.
Ten Ways to Get Caught
Never violate a court order!
If you won’t heed this advice out of respect for the law, you should follow it because the DA has so many ways to prove you violated the order.
If you’re caught violating an order of protection, you’ll be arrested all over again. You’ll be charged with “criminal contempt”. If convicted, you could go to jail for a year. Longer if you’re convicted of a felony.
Here are 10 ways to get caught violating a no-contact 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 Jane and you lived together when police arrested you.
Because the no-contact order specifically directs you to stay away from Jane’s home, you’re violating an order of protection even though Jane’s home is also your home.
You’re violating the order even if your name is on the lease and Jane’s isn’t – even if Jane remains living there rent-free while you continue to be financially responsible under the lease.
Jane is seated in the front passenger seat when police pull you over for a traffic infraction.
The order of protection and Jane’s name both pop up when the officer runs your driver’s license.
You’re seated in the front passenger seat when police pull Jane over for a traffic infraction.
The restraining order pops up when the officer runs Jane’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, a Customs inspector observes a reference to the order of protection against you.
The inspector determines that you are traveling with Jane because: a) you and Jane are walking together, side by side; b) you and/or Jane admit that you’re traveling together; and c) the airline manifest lists you and Jane occupying adjacent seats on the same flight.
Don’t Violate an Order of Protection
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Five: Conceiving a Child
You and Jane are the parents named on the birth certificate of your child, who had to have been conceived while the order of protection was in effect.
Along with the birth certificate, a DNA test will prove you violated the order.
Six: Security Cameras
Security cameras at the entrance to Jane’s apartment building show you entering and exiting on numerous occasions while the order was in effect.
Seven: Inmate Phone Calls
Rikers Island records all inmate telephone calls, including your calls to Jane. The DA reviews these recordings in domestic violence cases.
On one recording, the DA hears you speaking with Jane in violation of the order – telling Jane that the judge will dismiss your case if she doesn’t come to court.
The DA hears many other recordings of you speaking with Jane.
Eight: Family Members
Jane’s sister Beth, who knows about the order, 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 Jane, she hates you, or both.
Nine: The Next Argument
You and Jane have a disagreement.
Jane wins the argument by notifying 911 that she has a restraining order against you, and you’re at her house violating an order of protection.
Jane suspects you’ve been cheating on her.
Jane 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 Jane initiated communication with you.
Unfortunately, your proof is additional evidence that 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 foolproof, which is a good reason not to violate.
Or email Bruce a brief description of your situation: