If you are charged with a crime and the Court determines that you are a danger or potential danger to the complainant, the Court may issue a Protective Order. Protective Orders are commonly issued in family, or domestic violence, cases and can last until your criminal case is resolved. A Criminal Protective Order is an Order of the Court that prohibits you from contacting, threatening, harassing, and/or entering the residence of the protected party or parties. It can also extend to your children.
Criminal Protective Orders are usually issued at your first court date. If you have already been to Court and a Protective Order has been issued against you, your attorney can file a motion to modify the conditions the Court had originally set. If you have not yet gone to Court, consult an attorney before your court date to discuss how a Protective Order could affect you and whether there are grounds to argue that it should not be issued — before the judge makes a decision.
How a Criminal Protective Order can affect you
Conditions set forth in a Protective Order can cause tremendous hardship for you depending on your relationship with the protected party.
This is especially true if minor children are involved. For example, if the Court issues a Residential Stay Away Order where your children live, you must arrange to visit your children somewhere other than your home. If the Court issues a Full Protective Order prohibiting you from contacting the mother or father of your children, you will need to make arrangements with a third party to facilitate custody or visitation.
Your attorney can help
Judges decide whether to issue a Protective Order based on the police report and input from the prosecutor and a Family Services representative. Your attorney can talk to the prosecutor and accompany you when you meet with a Family Services representative before you appear in front of the judge.
- A note about Family Services: Family Services representatives are tasked with providing input to the Court regarding the disposition of family violence criminal cases. They are tasked with assessing and intervening to protect complainants against family violence crimes. Some of their roles include:
- Conducting pre-arraignment interviews and assessments of family violence cases
- Making recommendations regarding Protective Orders
- Making recommendations regarding treatment for those involved in family violence crimes
Sometimes your lawyer can stop a Protective Order from being issued. An experienced attorney can discuss any issues with and try to come to an agreement between the prosecutor and/or Family Services representative before the Order is entered. Sometimes, if the complainant is represented by counsel, your attorney can work with his or her attorney to discuss these issues before you appear before the judge.
If a Criminal Protective Order is issued, your attorney may be able to negotiate an agreement regarding the conditions placed on the Order. For example, a prosecutor and/or Family Services representative, after reading the police report, may think that you should not be able to contact the complainant for any reason or in any manner, but your attorney can provide information about your need to communicate with the complainant, even if on a limited basis.
Your attorney can also advocate for a Partial Protective Order rather than a Full Protective Order. Having a Partial, rather than a Full, Protective Order in place would enable to you to see your children, engage in counseling with the complainant, and/or participate in activities that you would not otherwise be able to with a Full Protective Order in place.
While the judge ultimately makes the final decision about the issuance of a Protective Order, it is important that you make sure he or she has the necessary information to make an informed decision.
If a Protective Order has been issued, your attorney will make sure you understand the terms of the Order and what you need to do to ensure you don’t put yourself at risk for violating the terms of the Protective Order. Violation of a Protective Order is a Class D felony and is punishable by up to five years’ incarceration.
You must follow the Order until and unless a judge grants a motion to modify the Protective Order or until your criminal case is resolved. Your attorney can help you understand what you need to do to convince the judge to grant a motion to modify the Order. Contact your attorney if you need to modify a Protective Order as soon as possible so they can have the motion ready before your next court date.
If you are charged with a domestic violence offense or family crime, or have any questions about Criminal Protective Orders, contact our attorneys at Koffsky & Felsen, LLC at 203-327-1500. The partners at Koffsky & Felsen, LLC collaborate with our clients to ensure we get the best results based on your individual needs. With over 50 years of combined experience, attorneys Audrey Felsen and Bruce Koffsky are dedicated to our clients and safeguarding your rights.