The judge couldn’t couldn’t have been clearer about the "no-contact" order of protection:
“Stay away from Jane Doe wherever she may be. Stay away from her home, her school, her place of business. Don’t communicate with Ms. Doe. Don’t contact her by telephone, text, email, carrier pigeon, smoke signal, ESP, through third parties, or by any other means.”
I was standing right next to Dan when he told the judge he understood. Even though he didn’t seem confused, I explained it to Dan again, in the hallway outside the courtroom. All of it.
How does the court know if a no contact order is violated? There are so many ways.
It's the Law, Not a Suggestion
Dan's tempted to treat the judge’s warning as a suggestion, rather than a command that has the force of law behind it – even though the court also gave him this command in writing, in a document called an “order of protection” (often called a "restraining order").
I referred Dan to a guide for orders of protection, to make sure he understood how orders of protection work.
Setting Up for a Bigger Fall
Jane's doing everything she can to persuade Dan that she’s on his side.
She’s also urging Dan to violate the order of protection:
- Jane waited for Dan on the sidewalk outside the courthouse when the judge released him.
- She’s texting 24/7: “Baby, I luv u! I miss u! Come home! No one will ever know …”
- Jane told Dan's mom that she only called the police because she wanted them to calm things down. She's horrified that they arrested Dan. She pleaded for them not to. She’ll never cooperate with the DA – not in a million years.
So tempting to get back together. How would the Court even know?
It's Her Order, Right?
The order is for Jane’s benefit, after all. She must have authority to permit Dan to violate it, right?
Makes so much sense but – Wrong!
It's an order of the Court, not an order of Jane. Until no order exists, Jane has no power to let Dan violate it.
10 Ways to Get Caught
Never violate an order of protection!
If Dan won't heed this advice out of respect for the law, he should follow it because there are so many ways for the DA to prove he violated the order.
If Dan's caught violating the order, he’ll be arrested all over again. He’ll be charged with “criminal contempt”. If convicted, he could go to jail for a year. Longer if he's convicted of a felony.
Here are 10 ways to get caught violating a no-contact order of protection:
1. Answering the Door
Dan answers the door when “domestic violence officers” from the local precinct make a follow-up visit to the home where Jane and Dan lived together when Dan got arrested.
Because the no-contact order specifically directs Dan to stay away from Jane’s home, Dan's in violation of the order even though Jane's home is also Dan's home.
Dan's in violation even if his name is on the lease and Jane's isn’t. Even if Jane lives there rent-free while Dan remains financially responsible under the lease.
Jane is seated in the front passenger seat when police pull Dan over for a traffic infraction.
The order of protection and Jane’s name both pop up when the officer runs Dan's driver’s license.
Dan's seated in the front passenger seat when police pull Jane over for a traffic infraction.
The restraining order pops up when the officer runs Jane’s driver’s license. So does Dan's name and his physical description.
4. On a Plane
A Customs inspector runs Dan's name through a database as he re-enters the US, and observes a reference to the order of protection against him.
The inspector determines that Dan is traveling with Jane because: a) Dan and Jane are traveling together, side by side; b) Dan and/or Jane admit that they're traveling together; and c) the airline manifest lists Dan and Jane occupying adjacent seats on the same flight.
5. Conceiving a Child
Dan and Jane are the parents named on the birth certificate of their child, who was conceived while the order of protection was in effect.
Along with the birth certificate, a DNA test will prove that Dan violated the order.
6. Security Cameras
Security cameras at the entrance to Jane’s apartment building show Dan entering and exiting on numerous occasions when the order was in effect.
7. Inmate Phone Calls
Rikers Island records all inmate telephone calls, including Dan's calls to Jane. The DA reviews these recordings in certain cases.
On one recording, Dan can be heard speaking with Jane in violation of the order – telling Jane that the judge will dismiss his case if she doesn’t come to court.
8. Family Members
Jane’s sister Beth, who knows about the order, calls the police to tell them that Dan's at Beth's house right now, violating it.
Beth does this because she’s mad at Jane, she hates Dan, or both.
9. The Next Argument
Dan and Jane have a disagreement.
Jane wins the argument by notifying 911 that she has a restraining order against Dan, and that Dan's at her house violating it.
Jane suspects that Dan's been cheating on her.
Jane retaliates by showing police all the texts and emails that Dan's been sending her since the judge issued the order of protection.
When Dan's arrested, he shows the police the texts and emails on his phone, to prove that Jane initiated communication with him.
Unfortunately, Dan's proof doesn’t make Dan less guilty of violating the order.
Tip of the Iceberg
These are typical ways a person might get caught violating an order of protection – not the only ways. There are many, many more.
No plan to violate an order of protection is foolproof, which is an good reason not to violate.