Protective Orders and No Contact Orders have certain similarities, but they are not the same. There are several significant distinctions between the two, including variations in the procedures for obtaining orders, the periods of time during which they provide protection, the restrictions they impose, and the procedures for removing them.
What is a No Contact Order? (Indiana Code 35-33-8-3.6)
No Contact Orders are issued by a judge through criminal cases. For instance, when there is a crime that involves an alleged victim of violence, such as Domestic Battery, Battery, Harassment, and Stalking, then the Judge will likely order that the Defendant have No Contact with the Alleged Victim. Courts typically issue no contact orders automatically or by request from a prosecutor. The intent of a no contact order is to protect victims of violent crime. The no contact order often serves as a bail requirement for the offender and forbids them from having any direct or indirect contact with the alleged victim. No Contact Orders generally last until the criminal case is resolved or until the Defendant completes their sentence.
What is a Protective Order? (Indiana Code 34-6-2-121.6)
Protection Orders are issued through civil cases via petitions. Protection Orders are civil legal remedies provided to victims of harassment, stalking, unwanted contact, abuse, etc. Protection Orders are a type of “civil injunctions” which prevents someone from having any type of direct or in-direct contact with another for a specific period of time (generally two years). To get a Protection Order, a person can merely go online or to their local county clerk’s office, request the specific forms, fill out those forms with detailed dates and allegations, and then file the documents with the Court. This is how a Petition for a Protection Order is initiated. From there, the Petition is then served to the Respondent (the person against whom the Petition for Protection Order is filed against) and then the Court typically sets a hearing within 30 days. A Protection Order Hearing is where both parties, the Petitioner and Respondent, both have an opportunity to present evidence, testimony, and arguments. However, it is the Petitioner who bears the burden to prove by the preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not) that the allegations they allege occurred and are legally sufficient for a Protection Order. The Petitioner also runs the risk of having Attorney’s Fees levied against them should the Court determine that their petition was frivolous. Since this is a civil matter, it is entirely separate from any criminal case that may be going on. The Respondent does not need to have been charged with a crime for someone to seek a protective order against them.
How to get a No Contact Order Terminated
A No Contact order can generally be lifted in three ways: (1) the criminal case is dismissed; (2) at the completion of the defendant’s sentence if they are found guilty or plead guilty, and the no contact order is a condition of their sentence; or (3) if the protected person (the alleged victim) testifies under oath that they want it lifted and the Judge agrees to have it lifted. This last option sometimes involves a series of questions an attorney may ask while the alleged victim is on the stand. Examples of these questions include: “what is the relationship between you and the defendant; why do you want the protection order lifted; are you in fear of your health or safety; if the court would lift the protection order, would you be in fear of your safety?”
It’s crucial to keep in mind that even if a no-contact order is removed, the outstanding charges remain unaffected.
How to fight a protection order
Protection orders can be filed by anyone at any time, they only need to grab the petition from local county clerk’s office and file the petition. After the petition is filed, the person who the protection order is filed against must be notified and hearing must be set within 30 days. The way you fight a protection order is by winning during hearing in one of two ways: (1) the petitioner fails to show up, or (2) the hearing is finished and the judge rules in your favor. The hearing is basically a mini trial where both sides have an opportunity to be heard. During the hearing, the petitioner bears the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, their need for the protection order. The Judge has full discretion in determining whether or not to grant someone’s Petition for a Protection Order.
As soon as you receive notice of a hearing for a protection order against you or have a No Contact Order levied against you in a Criminal Case, it is always smart to contact a lawyer. Our attorneys here at Banks & Brower, LLC have the experience in fighting against these types of orders.