Unless you have been through the process before, finding yourself the defendant in a criminal prosecution is typically a frightening experience. Before you even have a chance to worry much about the potential outcome of your case, you have to make it through your initial court appearance and figure out how to navigate the criminal justice system from there on out. Hiring an experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorney is the best thing you can do for yourself and your future at this point. Learning some basics about the criminal justice system will also help. For example, if your case involves an alleged victim, the judge may issue a no contact order during your initial appearance in court. To ensure that you understand what that means, a Smyrna criminal defense attorney explains everything you need to know about a no contact order.
Your Initial Appearance
In a criminal prosecution, the defendant’s first appearance in court is typically referred to as an arraignment, or an initial hearing. If you are still in custody, meaning you have not been able to post a bond yet, your initial hearing will occur within a day or two of your arrest in most cases. If you posted bond, and are out of custody, your initial hearing might be a week or later after your arrest, depending on the court’s calendar. At your initial hearing, the judge will make sure you understand the charges against you as well as your rights. You will enter a preliminary plea of not guilty, unless you have already agreed to a guilty plea agreement with the State. The court will also ask you about your plans to retain an attorney if you do not already have one. In certain types of cases, the judge will also issue a no contact order at this time.
What Is a No Contact Order?
Some criminal offenses involve a victim, including crimes such as domestic violence, burglary, or sexual assault. When a victim is involved, the court wants to make sure that the defendant does not have any contact with the alleged victim while the case is pending to prevent further crimes from occurring and/or to prevent the defendant from intimidating or threatening the victim. To decrease the likelihood that a defendant will contact an alleged victim, the court can issue a “no contact” order. As the term implies, a no contact order is simply a court order prohibiting the defendant from having any type of contact with someone involved in the case. Typically, a no contact order includes physical contact as well as via telephone, in writing, over electronic mediums, or even through a third party. The court’s order is also typically made part of the conditions of the defendant’s release. If you violate a no contact order, the court can – and usually will – revoke your bail and order you to be held without bail until your case is resolved.
Protective Order vs. No Contact Order
Orders that prohibit contact go by several different names, including a protective order, a no contact order, or a restraining order. The primary difference between them is that one is a civil order and the other stems from a criminal prosecution. The victim of domestic violence, for example, can petition a judge to issue a protective order prohibiting the abuser from contacting him/her. If issued, this order is a civil order. The State of Tennessee is not a party to the action nor does the order result in criminal charges against the respondent (alleged abuser). A no contact order, on the other hand, is issued by a criminal court judge and is part of a criminal prosecution.
How Can a Smyrna Criminal Defense Attorney Help?
If you currently have criminal charges pending, and the court issued a no contact order in your case, it is imperative that you understand the terms of the order and that you abide by the terms of the order. Violating the court’s order will likely result in a return to custody. Consult with an experienced Smyrna criminal defense attorney immediately to ensure that you are clear on what your no contact order means.
If you have been accused of a criminal offense, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Smyrna criminal defense attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.