If you are accused of a violent or domestic offense, it is likely the alleged victim will seek a New York order of protection against you. This court order comes with a specific set of conditions that must be followed. Not only does the consequence of violating a New York order of protection include a possible impact on your criminal case, but could lead to additional criminal charges. Here’s what you need to know about a New York order of protection and the reasons to fully understand the requirements and conditions of any order against you.
Most states refer to an order of protection as a restraining order. While the terminology used in New York is different, the legal effect is the same. A New York order of protection is a document requested by a victim, signed by a judge, and issued by a court that restrains or restricts the behavior of a New York criminal defendant or individual involved in a family law matter.
The exact conditions of a New York order of protection can vary, but generally, an order of protection restricts the defendant’s ability to contact a supposed victim of a crime or domestic violence. Common requirements of a New York order of protection include limitations on calling, texting, emailing, or other electronic communication with the victim, not going within a certain distance of the victim, and not visiting the victim’s home or place of employment. There can be several other restrictions included in an order of protection, if so requested by the alleged victim or determined necessary by a New York City judge.
There are two courts that issue orders of protection in New York. If a victim is facing domestic abuse or violence or is being harassed by a former spouse, then the family court in New York City can issue an order of protection. When the basis for an order of protection is a separate criminal offense or a domestic matter for which the victim is filing criminal charges, then a criminal court can issue a New York order of protection.
Of course, there is a burden on the victim to show that an order of protection is appropriate and necessary. The victim needs to provide information and evidence that the defendant is a threat, might be abusive, or is harassing the victim. This evidence is first provided in the filing for a New York order of protection and then produced at a court hearing.
Just as the supposed victim is given an opportunity to provide evidence of abuse, threat, or harassment, a defendant can refute these claims and offer contradictory evidence. At the hearing for a New York order of protection, the defendant should have a New York defense lawyer present to fight the victim’s evidence and arguments. A criminal defense lawyer will ensure you follow the rules of evidence in a New York court, build a strategic case against the order of protection, and if necessary, argue to limit the New York order of protection.
Every New York order of protection is an official court order. This means violating an order of protection is similar in nature to violating probation or refusing to pay a court fine – even if the exact repercussions differ. Essentially, violating a New York order of protection is serious, and any court will look unfavorably on a violation.
For violating a New York order of protection the court could hold you in contempt. Criminal contempt in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor that can be punished by a maximum one year in jail and/or a find of $1,000. You are prosecuted for criminal contempt in a criminal court, in the same manner, and circumstances as other serious misdemeanor offenses. You will want a New York criminal defense lawyer to represent you against charges of criminal contempt in the second degree.
If you violate a New York order of protection to deliberately cause the victim to fear physical violence or physical injury, then you can be charged with a more serious offense in the State of New York. Criminal contempt in the first degree is a class E felony, meaning the potential punishment increases to four years in prison and/or a criminal fine of $5,000. Evidence that a defendant deliberately caused the victim fear is the use of a weapon or repeated harassment of the alleged victim.
The most serious criminal charge for violation of a New York order of protection is aggravated criminal contempt. This is a class D felony in New York that could lead to seven years in prison and/or a criminal fine of $5,000. You can be charged with aggravated criminal contempt if you intentionally cause physical injury or harm to the victim when violating an order of protection. Keep in mind, that the charges for aggravated contempt of court are in addition to any criminal charges for assault, aggravated assault, or attempted homicide that may result from a physical altercation with the victim.
The criminal charges for violating an order of protection are serious, and there are other possible repercussions, including mention of the violation at a subsequent hearing for the underlying criminal charges. If you are facing investigation or arrest for criminal contempt or aggravated criminal contempt, now is the time to contact our team at Greco Neyland.
Our criminal defense team can assist with a case for violating a New York order of protection and provide a defense to other criminal charges, including domestic abuse or harassment. Contact our New York City office 24/7 by calling (212) 951-1300