Violating a Protective Order & No Contact Order

Invasion of Privacy – Violating a Protective and/or a No Contact Order

Many people wrongfully believe that if someone has filed a Protective Order against them, the only penalty for having violated it is that the police come to your house, yell at you, and tell you to stop doing it. What many people don’t realize, however, is that violating the terms of a Protective Order or No Contact Order oftentimes leads to criminal charges — more specifically, the charge of Invasion of Privacy as a Misdemeanor or Felony. This blog by the Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorneys at Banks & Brower will take a close look at that crime and the ramifications of a conviction therefrom
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PROTECTIVE ORDER VS. A NO CONTACT ORDER

First and foremost, you might be wondering, what is the difference between a Protective Order and a No Contact Order? While ostensibly they are very similar, a Protective Order is a civil-based court order signed by a judge requiring that the Respondent, the alleged perpetrator, stay away from the Petitioner, the alleged protected party. In that court order, the judge can be as specific as to list protected zones, protected members, etc., however the order can also be more generic in nature — i.e. you must stay 500 feet away from someone.

A Protective Order begins by the Petitioner formally requesting protection by way of filing a petition with a court stating that they have a fear of imminent bodily injury by the Respondent and protection is necessary immediately to stop it. Protective Orders are typically granted on an emergency basis and a hearing must be held within thirty (30) days so as to give the Respondent a chance to contest the allegations and/or the need for the Protective Order. If at the hearing, the Petitioner meets their burden of proof (that being a preponderance of the evidence (i.e. more likely than not)), then the Protective Order often lasts two (2) years unless renewed. As a direct result, the Respondent will typically automatically lose their right to own and possess firearms and must give up their concealed carry permit as well. If they are Brady Disqualified as a result, it can keep them from getting a concealed carry permit in the future as well.

A No Contact Order, though very similar in nature, is often ordered by a judge after requested by a prosecutor in a criminal case. More often than not, if a criminal case involves an alleged victim, there will typically be an accompanying No Contact Order.  Many times, the No Contact Order will remain in effect as long as the criminal case does, and many times it lasts as long as the criminal sentence does (i.e. the length of probation). However, a No Contact Order often terminates at the completion of the criminal matter. It is possible, though, for defense attorneys to request No Contact Orders be terminated, especially if the protected party is willing to come to court to testify it isn’t necessary. An experienced attorney can explain how that that process works and can subpoena the appropriate parties to court to address it.

WHAT ARE THE RAMIFACTIONS OF VIOLATING THESE ORDERS?

So, assuming the Protective Order or No Contact Order is in place, one of the worst things the Respondent can do is violate the terms. And, there are some major misconceptions out there as to what it takes to do so. Violating a Protective Order or No Contact Order isn’t just as simple as having physical contact with the protected party. Rather, the following are examples of violating those orders: (1) direct contact, (2) indirect contact, (3) contact through third parties, (4) social media contact, (5) phone contact, (6) email contact, (7) contact through text messages, (8) contact through letters/notes, etc. Any one of these forms of contact can result in criminal charges, more specifically, Invasion of Privacy as a Misdemeanor or Felony.
Another common misconception is that so long as the Respondent is responding to an invitation to communicate with the protected party, they cannot get in trouble. In fact, quite the opposite is true. The protected party is legally allowed to initiate contact with the Respondent, but the Respondent is forbidden to communicate back. That may not seem fair, but justice isn’t always fair. This issue often rears its ugly head in domestic-based criminal charges. Often times the defendant and the alleged victim will reconcile in violation of the No Contact Order. Things are fine for a while until they have another falling out. If that happens, and the victim reports it, the Defendant can be charged, regardless of whether or not it was consensual. So, when in doubt, don’t communicate until your attorney can lift the No Contact Order.

INVASION OF PRIVACY, THE CRIME

But what is the penalty should a violation occur? IC 35-46-1-15.1 states, “a person who knowingly or intentionally violates a protective order . . . . commits invasion of privacy, a Class A misdemeanor.” A Class A misdemeanor carries with it a penalty of 0-365 days in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. However, the offense can be charged as a Level 6 felony if the defendant has a prior, unrelated conviction for Invasion of Privacy in the past. A Level 6 felony carries with it a penalty of 180 days in jail up to 2.5 years in jail, and the court can issue a fine of up to $10,000 as well. As anyone can see, the ramifications aren’t slight.

Moreover, Invasions of Privacy charges are often used as leverage in pending criminal cases. For example, in any criminal case where there is a victim and a No Contact Order has been issued, if the prosecutor finds out that the defendant is making contact with protected parties, they will often threaten filing an Invasion of Privacy charge to try to get the defendant to stop. If they don’t, and Invasion of Privacy is filed, the prosecutor will also typically file for a revocation of bond under the original case, and the defendant will sit in jail with two pending cases instead of one.

CONCLUSION:

Obviously, this is no laughing matter. Should you or a loved one need to fight a Protective Order or No Contact Order, give the experienced Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC a call today. We have dealt with hundreds of these orders and know what it takes to combat them. With the civil and criminal penalties on high, you need experienced litigators to help you navigate the minefield of ramifications. Give us a call 24/7/365 at 317.870.0019 or email us at info@banksbrower.com.