A restraining order isn’t a type of criminal offense. It is a court order prohibiting someone from contacting a specific person or engaging in particular actions. Protective orders are often issued in domestic violence cases where one party threatens to abuse or abuses another.
The alleged victim can pursue a protective order, or a judge can issue one, depending on the circumstances. Although being issued an order isn’t a felony, violating the order’s conditions can lead to severe consequences.
Conditions and Restrictions in a Protective Order
The situation will determine the conditions imposed by the court in a protective order. Multiple types of protective orders are available depending on the related factors. Regardless of the type issued against you, conditions can include:
- Staying away from the victim’s home and job
- Not possessing or using firearms
- Attending counseling, anger management, or another program or treatment
- Refraining from acts of threats, force, violence, or criminal offenses
- Moving out of the current residence shared with the alleged victim
- Avoiding all electronic communication with the alleged victim, including texts and emails
The judge will consider all relevant case details to decide which conditions to include in the protective order.
Responding to a Protective Order in Virginia
You should contact a criminal defense attorney immediately if you receive a copy of a protective order issued against you by the court. Since restraining orders often prohibit contact with the petitioner, calling the alleged victim to ask about the order or try to resolve the issue is a terrible idea. Let your lawyer prepare a legal strategy to defend you in court.
Consequences of Violating a Restraining Order
A restraining order is a civil order imposed and issued by the court. It is not a criminal charge or sentence. However, if you violate the conditions and restrictions of a restraining order, you could incur criminal penalties.
Violating any protective order provision is a class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia. A conviction can lead to penalties, such as:
- A maximum of a $2,500 fine
- Up to 12 months in jail
The penalty includes a mandatory minimum term of confinement when the offender is convicted of violating the conditions of a protective order a second time within five years. When the violation or initial order involves an act or threat of violence, the mandatory minimum sentence is 60 days’ imprisonment.
The offense increases to a felony if the violation occurs three or more times within twenty years. If the incident or one of the earlier offenses involves a threat or act of violence, the violation is a class 6 felony, punishable by:
- Up to a $2,500 fine; and
- Mandatory minimum jail term of six months; or
- Between one and five years in prison, depending on the court’s discretion.
Additional penalties can apply if you commit another crime while violating the provisions of the protective order. For example, committing assault and battery that leads to the alleged victim’s bodily injury is a felony. If convicted, you could face combined sentencing for the assault and battery and protective order violation.
Fight Against the Restraining Order with a Dedicated Legal Team
Bain Sheldon understands your future is at stake after the court issues a restraining order against you. The alleged victim accuses you of harming or threatening them somehow, and the order limits your freedom. You should not defend yourself without an experienced Virginia criminal defense lawyer from our firm.
We will protect your rights and explore all options to try to get the order dissolved. You can count on us to remain by your side until the end. Call Bain Sheldon at 804-282-8625 for a free consultation in Richmond if you have a restraining order against you.