No Contact Orders in Family Law

In some family law cases, a no contact order may be issued. This order prohibits the defendant from having any contact with the alleged victim. A no contact order is a tool that has often been effectively used to assist victims of domestic violence.

Prohibited Contact

A no contact order usually instructs the defendant not to have any in-person contact with the alleged victim. The defendant is instructed to stay a minimum number of feet away from the victim’s place of residence, employment and known areas that he or she frequents. Additionally, the defendant is instructed not to have other types of communication with the victim, including communication via mail, telephone calls, text messages, emails or social media contact. The defendant is often instructed not to have direct or indirect contact with the victim, such as giving a letter to a third party to give to the victim.

The prohibitions on contact remain in effect even if the victim initiates the contact. For example, if a wife gets a no contact order against her husband, decides to reconcile with the husband and invites the husband back into the marital home, the husband can still face consequences associated with violating the no contact order. This order remains in effect until the court no longer feels the order is necessary to protect the victim, the parties agree to cancel the order and the court provides instructions to do so or the order expires.

Violation of No Contact Orders

If a person violates a no contact orders, he or she can face serious consequences. Consequences often include potential jail time, the payment of fines or the loss of certain civil rights. Generally, consequences related to contempt of court can be imposed on a person who violates a no contact order.

Additionally, a person who is on probation or parole must take extra precautions. Violating a no contact order is considered a crime as well as a violation of a probation, parole or bail conditions. If a court determines that a person on probation has violated the no contact order, his or her original sentence may be imposed. For example, if the person received a one-year sentence that was suspended, this year of jail may then be imposed because the defendant did not comply with the terms of his or her sentence. Likewise, if a person violates a no contact order while on bail, bail can be revoked and the person can be held over until the underlying crime for which he or she is charged is prosecuted.

Actions to Avoid

Due to the potential consequences of being found to have violated a no contact order, it is important to avoid this situation. A person who knows that a no contact order has been issued against him or her should read the order and take steps not to perform any activity prohibited in the order. If the defendant happens upon the victim by accident, he or she should leave the area immediately. This can occur if he or she spots the victim in a public place.

If the victim says that the no contact order has been cancelled, the defendant should not take the victim’s word for it. Instead, he or she can request a copy of the cancellation with the court and inspect the document for the judge’s signature. The defendant should not attempt to have any contact with the victim until the order is dismissed, the defendant is found not guilty or the restraining order expires.

In addition to not violating the contact portion of the order, the defendant should also avoid taking any action that is prohibited by the order. For example, if the defendant is ordered only to have supervised visitation with his or her children, the defendant should not attempt to have unsupervised visits. Additionally, if the defendant is ordered to vacate the home, he or she should not return to the home without a formal declaration by the court.

Legal Assistance

The potential repercussions of a no contact order and consequences for violating it are serious. As such, it is important to seek legal assistance to defend against the issuance of a no contact order. A lawyer can help lodge an effective defense in an attempt to avoid a no contact order being issued. If a defendant is charged with violating an existing no contact order, he or she should seek immediate legal assistance to avoid the serious repercussions of a conviction.

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Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication at the time it was written. It is not intended to provide legal advice or suggest a guaranteed outcome as individual situations will differ and the law may have changed since publication. Readers considering legal action should consult with an experienced lawyer to understand current laws they may affect a case.

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