If you were recently served with an Order of Protection, or a court ordered one as part of a pending criminal prosecution, it is imperative that you understand the order and that you take the restrictions found in the order seriously. To help you, a Murfreesboro criminal defense attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby explains what you need to know about an Order of Protection in Tennessee.
What Is an Order of Protection?
Also referred to as “Restraining Orders” or “No Contact Orders,” an Order of Protection is an Order issued by a judge that prohibits the Respondent (in a civil case) or the Defendant (in a criminal case) from having contact with the alleged victim or Petitioner. Sometimes these orders are issued in divorces cases if domestic violence is alleged by one of the parties. The judge in a criminal case may also issue an Order of Protection as part of a defendant’s pre-trial release conditions and/or part of his/her conditions of probation. Finally, a victim of domestic violence may also petition for an Order of Protection even if no charges are currently pending against the alleged abuser. The judge issuing the order can make the order as broad or as limited as he/she feels is warranted. As such, an Order of Protection may order the Defendant to do things such as:
- Stop the specified conduct.
- Refrain from making threats.
- Stop all communication between the abuser and alleged victim.
- Stay away from the victim.
- Leave the shared home or residence.
- Order temporary custody/visitation for minor children.
- Order temporary support to the alleged victim if the parties are married.
Common Misconceptions about an Order of Protection
Most people have some idea what an Order of Protection is and why one is issued; however, there are also some crucial myths and misconceptions about them. Among the most important of the misconceptions is the idea that an Order of Protection prohibits both parties from having contact. While it is possible for a judge to issue mutual orders that restrain both parties equally, a common Order of Protection only restrains the Defendant. In other words, if a judge issued an Order of Protection against you, the alleged victim is not prevented from contacting you. Therefore, if you have contact with the alleged victim, you are the only one who risks the penalties associated with that contact.
Another common misconception is that the alleged victim always has the ability to “drop” an Order of Protection. Sometimes that is the case; however, if the Order was issued by a judge as part of a criminal prosecution (either as a condition of pre-trial release or a condition of probation), the alleged victim cannot simply decide to drop the restrictions. It may be possible to get the Order modified or vacated with the assistance of an attorney, but until a judge enters an order reflecting the requested modifications or vacating the entire order, the Defendant remains legally bound by the initial Order.
What Happens If I Violate an Order of Protection?
If you violate any of the prohibitions included in an Order of Protection you could be charged with a separate criminal offense. If the Order was issued as part of your pre-trial release conditions in a pending criminal prosecution, your bail could also be revoked. This could result in your return to custody until your case is adjudicated. Violating an Order of Protection that was issued as a condition of probation could result in a probation violation being filed with the court. That, in turn, could lead to your probation being revoked and the judge ordering you to serve any portion of your sentence that was suspended.
Contact a Murfreesboro Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have questions about an Order of Protection, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro criminal defense attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.