Criminal Orders of Protection (Restraining Orders)

An Order of Protection, often informally called a Restraining Order, is a legal document issued by a Court in which a Judge orders someone to follow specific conditions of behavior. The court order essentially tells someone things that they must or must not do, and keeps boundaries on their behavior when they harm or threaten to harm another person.

During a criminal case, a Criminal Court Order of Protection is often issued as a condition of a defendant’s release and/or bail. During this process (most frequently at arraignment), the District Attorney requests an Order of Protection for the victim and then the Judge will decide whether to issue the Order of Protection and what conditions will be included in the Order.

The fact there is an Order of Protection filed against the defendant does not necessarily mean they have been found guilty of anything. The Court has the right to issue an Order of Protection before all the facts of the case have even been heard, for the purposes of helping to protect all the parties involved in the case. For example, an Order of Protection can require a person to stay away from another person, his/her home, school, and work. However, the Court can make exceptions such as to arrange visitation with a child. In New York, every Order of Protection has a specific expiration date and can be extended or renewed under certain circumstances.

What Happens If An Order of Protection is Violated?

If an Order of Protection has been violated by not following the Judge’s conditions, it is called Criminal Contempt (a Class A Misdemeanor – and possibly a felony with certain preconditions or aggravating circumstances), and the person can, and likely will be, arrested if the violation is reported or observed by police. If the Order of Protection says

to stay away from somewhere or somebody, then that person must stay away, even if they think they have a good reason to contact that person. If the offender violates the order of protection in any way, the police can enforce the Order the way it is written.

How Long Does an Order of Protection Last?

The Court can issue a Temporary Order of Protection while the case is open, which usually lasts from one court date to another court date, or for the duration of a case. At the final disposition of the case, the Court can issue a Permanent Order of Protection, which can last from one year to several years, depending upon the seriousness of the case.

Can an Order of Protection be Changed?

Depending on the circumstances, either party can ask the Court to change the Order of

Protection. Though both Criminal Court and Family Court can issue Orders of Protection, it’s

important to know that the Family Court cannot change an Order that was issued by the Criminal Court.

Some changes to the Order of Protection may include adding exceptions to allow visitation with a child or changing a “Refrain From” Order of Protection to a Stay Away Order of Protection if the situation has worsened.

Stay Away Order of Protection vs. Refrain From Order of Protection

A Stay Away Order of Protection orders the offender to stay away from the protected party’s

home, job, and/or school, and not have any communication with that person via phone, text,

social media, e-mail, or postal mail. While a Refrain from Order of Protection allows the

offender to contact the protected party, they are refrained from committing any offense such as assault, stalking, harassment, menacing, reckless endangerment, disorderly conduct,

intimidation, etc.

If you have an Order of Protection or a Stay Away Order of Protection against you, it’s important to speak with an attorney immediately so they can analyze the particulars of your case and situation. At Johnston Law LLC, we are here to help with your Order of Protection and any other

criminal matters. Contact us at (516) 388-7611.