Very often in a criminal matter, when a person is arraigned before a judge, the judge will issue what is called an “Order of Protection” or sometimes called a “Restraining Order.”

Well what is an order of protection, you ask? First, there are actually four types of order of protection that are normally issued by the Courts. Essentially, there are two different types, each with their own acronyms or nicknames, and they can be 1) temporary or 2) final, depending on the stage of the proceedings.

First, you have what is called a Limited Order of Protection, a/k/a “LOP” or “Refrain From” order. This order from the Court says that you can have contact with the protected party, but you can’t act bad against the protected party. Normally, the order says something like, “Refrain from assaulting, harassing, choking, stalking, etc… the protected party. Second, there is a Full Order of Protection, which means stay away from the person, stay away from their home, stay away from their school, place of business… Do not call, text, Facebook, Snap, Kik… you get the idea.

A question I often get asked is why is there an order of protection if my boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or whoever doesn’t want the order of protection. The answer is that it is the judge’s decision and he doesn’t always agree with what the “victim” in a case wants. And that brings us to the next point that many people do not understand. Violating an order of protection is not a crime against the protected entity; rather, it is a crime against the Court and a judge. This is why the District Attorney often does not care about the victim’s input when it comes to breaking an order of protection.

When you violate an order of protection, you can be charged with Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree or Criminal Contempt in the First Degree. Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in county jail, or up to 3 years of probation, or a combination of both. Criminal Contempt in the First Degree is punishable by up to four years in prison.

So what do you do if there is an order of protection…? Follow it! Do not think for one second that just one little phone call won’t make a difference. It will. Do not think that by just driving by his/her house, no one will notice. They will. Don’t put yourself in a position to make your criminal case harder to win.

I’ve had countless cases where the matter was set to resolve in favor of the defendant and then a criminal contempt throws a wrench into the plans. Remember, the police and prosecutor often do not need a cooperative “victim” to prosecute a criminal contempt because the only evidence they need is a single witness who saw the order being violated and often this witness is a police officer.

So, my common sense narrative to anyone who has an order of protection placed against them is to sit down and actually read the piece of paper. Word for word. I realized that the Judge recites the rules of the order in Court during the criminal arraignment or proceedings, but most defendants are in some form of shock during these proceedings and don’t fully understand the instructions or consequences.

As usual, these posts are not a substitute for legal advice. For that, give the Kokosa Law Firm a call at (518) 907-4694.