What Happens if You Violate a Restraining Order?

Restraining orders are issued for a variety of crimes and they are supposed to prevent the person from getting too close to another person or a place to ensure that there are no further conflicts and problems.

A large portion of these come as a result of bad break ups or divorces where one of the parties refuses to acknowledge the end of relationship which makes the other person seek legal help. Restraining orders are also very common after a domestic violence convictions. So, what happens if you violate the restraining order somehow? First of all, get a good attorney to represent your case.

Legal Punishment for Violation of a Restraining Order

There is an important distinction between a first time violation and every subsequent one. The first offense is considered a misdemeanor, whereas all others will most likely be treated as felonies.

However, don’t be fooled by this distinctions, both of these convictions can be quite severe. When it comes to a misdemeanor sentence, it can land you a maximum year in jail and as much as $1000 in fines, but that remains at the discretion of the judge. There is a caveat here, if you injure the person who is being protected by the restraining order, there is an obligatory jail sentence of at least 30 days and the fine can be doubled to $2000.

A felony sentence, naturally, means a more severe punishment, with up to 3 years in prison and a significantly higher financial fine of $10,000.

How Is Violation of a Restraining Order Proved?

The legal system of the USA is conceived so that everyone is deemed innocent until proven guilty. What that means is that if you are accused of violating a restraining order, it is the prosecution who has to prove that the event happened, rather than you proving that it didn’t happen.

If you are accused, you should consider consulting a criminal law attorney to advise you before you go to court. Tell them everything that happen so that you could prepare the best possible defense based on facts. Keep in mind that they cannot help you if you are not honest with them.

The prosecution needs to prove several things in order to have you convicted of violation of a restraining order. So, if your attorney can disprove any aspect of it, you may be able to challenge the case and have it thrown out, or get a reduced sentence.

The first thing that needs to be done is to establish that there is a restraining order against you and that you were aware of its existence and the contents of it. This is fairly easy to prove, but there is another important thing that remains to be proven. They need to be able to show that you have intentionally violated the restraining order. Any one of these claims can be challenged and your attorney has several ways he can approach the case.

Lines of Defense

The simplest, and the rarest case is to show that the restraining order was not issued lawfully and legally, so a violation of it is not in itself a crime. Another possible justification may be that you didn’t know that there was a restraining order, but it is really hard to disprove that claim.

The most likely line of defense is that you did not intentionally violate the order and that it is a kind of a misunderstanding, or that the allegations of a violation are completely untrue.

Whatever your defense, you will need a good criminal attorney to ensure that you have the best chance to successfully conclude the case.

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