The saying goes, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” Ignorance can also be risky when you consider the consequences of ignorance regarding civil protective orders—otherwise known as restraining orders. What you don’t know can certainly harm you.
Let’s say your wife has gotten a civil protective order—whether temporary or permanent— against you. If you have been experiencing marital difficulties anyway, you may think, “I don’t care if she has a restraining order—I don’t even want to see her!” But maybe this was a once in a lifetime situation and you and your wife have worked things out and want to have contact. Well, there is a whole lot more to that legal paper than you might think, and you should be aware of all the ramifications.
You must follow all the requirements of the civil protective order to the letter, without exception. Any violation of the order is deemed a crime and may result in jail time, fines, or other consequences of criminal action.
“No Contact” Means None—Not Even Accidental
Civil Protective Orders can prevent any type of contact or they can allow peaceable contact. If a civil protective order allows peaceable contact that means you can have contact with the person as long as there are no more acts of abuse or violence. However, if the protective order mandates that there is absolutely no contact allowed, make sure you follow this order. Examples of prohibited contact where none is authorized are:
- You call you wife to get her social security number for a health insurance questionnaire.
- You run into your wife in the mall.
- You write an email expressing your desire to work things out with your wife.
- You and your wife happen to be at church, school, or a social event at the same time.
- You accidentally autodial home from your cell phone.
- You decide to text her.
In each of these situations, the letter of the law as put forth in that civil protective order determines that you have violated the terms, and you could be imprisoned. Furthermore, if the civil protective order is temporary, the perceived violation will be considered by the judge if your wife wants to make the order permanent.
Mandatory Jail Sentence
If you are found to be in violation of a civil protective order, you can be charged criminally for violating the protective order. If convicted of a protective order violation, you MUST receive a jail sentence as all the time can not be suspended.
Give Up Your Weapons
If you have firearms, you must turn them in to the police or to a licensed gun dealer, and you must provide proof that you have done so. As long as the civil protective order is in effect, you may have no contact with firearms or ammunition; you could be jailed if you do.
Your Past Can Come Back to Haunt You
When deciding whether to make the civil protective order permanent, the court will consider any past convictions for serious or violent felonies or for misdemeanors involving firearms, domestic violence, or other forms of violence. These factors also play into how much, if any, contact you have with your children.
If you are on probation or parole, the court will also take this information into consideration. If you have any outstanding warrants, the court is required to notify the appropriate law enforcement agency, and you could be hauled off to jail.
If you have been issued a civil protective order and you need a criminal defense lawyer in Northern Virginia, get in touch with the Fairfax criminal defense attorneys at Taylor Law Company. Call us at 703-385-5529, and we’ll set you up with a FREE, immediate, no-obligation consultation.