ORDERS OF PROTECTION
Orders of protection generate most frequently in criminal cases and family court cases.
In criminal cases, once a charge is filed alleging some form of violence, harassment, or similar behavior, one party (the defendant) may be required to obey a judicially mandated order of protection in favor of another party (the victim). In family court cases, orders of protection generally flow from the filing of a family offense petition which accuses one party (the respondent) of having committed a family offense (there are several allegations that can lead to a family offense and most are similar to the same bases for issuance of a protective order in a criminal case) against another party (the petitioner). It is important to note that you do not technically need to be of the same blood or family lineage in order to qualify for a family offense. Intimate partners, among others, can be subjected to family offenses as well.
Orders of protection generally come in two forms: stay away orders and non-stay away orders. Stay away orders require that one party stay away from another person and his/her home, work, school, etc. The order will specify the exact distance but is generally 500-1,000 feet away. A stay away order also usually prohibits direct and indirect communication as well. For example, a stay away order of protection prohibiting communication would prevent talking to the other person as well as texting, social media contact, communication through a third party, etc. A stay away order will also require that one party not commit a criminal offense against the protected party. The non-stay away order of protection allows contact and communication but forbids criminal activity. Judges have broad discretion to include several other conditions when their pen hits the paper upon which a protective order is written.
Compliance with an order of protection is critical. If someone violates an order of protection, they can be charged criminally with a contempt of court which could expose the individual to more serious and additional penalties above and beyond the original charge or accusation. Some cases are before both the criminal court and the family court at the same time. When this happens, cases are sometimes consolidated before a single superior court such as the Integrated Domestic Violence Court.
One very important point to note is that the victim or petitioner does not control the order of protection. The judge is the only person that can change or modify an existing order of protection. So, for example, if a girlfriend tells a boyfriend, "I want to drop the charges, I don't want an order of protection anymore and I want you to come home now." The boyfriend should not respond because doing so will violate the order of protection. As your attorney, we are able to make the judge aware that the victim or petitioner no longer wants the order, but the judge will have to make the final decision once the order is actually in effect. For this reason, it is important for clients to report to us regularly about any communications received or new factors that come up during our representation of you. We also spend considerable attention to making sure that an order of protection is being used genuinely as a shield and not a sword. It is true sometimes, that some people will ask for an order of protection as a way of getting power or control over another person in an effort to expose that person to a greater penalty. When this happens (and it regularly does) we immediately and aggressively communicate with the Court in defense of our clients.
Our firm has significant experience helping individuals who are both defendants and victims, and both petitioners and respondents. We are equipped to handle either side of a case involving an order of protection. When we first appear in court, we will make the judge aware of any unique factors that need to be addressed in an order of protection. Sometimes, we are able to coordinate "carve out" exceptions which would allow contact or communication in certain specific situations. Carve out exceptions are frequently used for parties that attend the same church, go to the same school, or who need to arrange child custody exchanges. Our approach to orders of protection is very individualized because we understand that no two people nor two families are alike. We work very hard to make sure that the Courts understand the important factors that you may be facing. As such, feel welcome to give our office a call should you require assistance. Consultations are always FREE and our prices are always competitive!
"Mr. Fried and his staff were impeccably professional and knowledgeable. They were patient and answered all of my questions, and I received prompt responses to all calls and emails. I also appreciate how well they explained the legal proceedings of my case to me. Thanks to their efforts, my case was resolved with a favorable outcome. Overall, I am very pleased with the quality of service I've received and would absolutely recommend this firm."
— Y. Chun
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