Interviewer: Let’s talk about no-contact orders or protection orders or restraining orders. How do they work and are they all the same thing?
Paul Tafelski, criminal defense attorney: They’re not all the same thing but they are very similar in what they actually do. A no-contact order is typically a condition of bond and that’s set by the judge as soon as there’s a formal charge filed in almost every domestic violence case. We have had success on occasion getting judges to modify that to no assaultive contact, no abusive behavior, that kind of thing so the parties can still reside together if they both wanted to. But no-contact is typically a bond condition whereas a restraining order or a personal protection order is usually something that is issued in a separate action based upon somebody either threatening or stalking or refusing to stop contacting another person, that sort of thing. And they both have the same effect of saying, person A, you’re not allowed to be anywhere near person B and you’re not allowed to talk to them in any way. The effect of those orders is basically the same but they are technically separate deals for separate issues.
The Courts May Impose Protective Orders Regardless of the Defendant’s Preferences
Interviewer: Let’s say the alleged victim doesn’t really care either way about restraining orders or protection orders. Can the court impose them anyway?
Paul Tafelski: Yeah they always do. They don’t ask the person whether they want it. They will ask them if the defendant is trying to remove those. They will ask them if it’s ok with them to remove them and they usually won’t remove the no-contact order without their consent but they almost always impose them without their consent or even their input.
It is Advisable To Avoid Contact With the Alleged Victim Once Protective Orders Have Been Issued
Interviewer: Do you ever see problems where someone tried to contact, let’s say an alleged victim tried to contact the accused, like via text or phone calls?
Paul Tafelski: Yes, it happens quite a bit, because often times these people’s lives are totally intertwined and they have children together and they have business interests, and their finances are entangled and it’s pretty hard to continue their lives with no contact and so many times the complaining witness or the victim will try and contact the defendant and it doesn’t get them in any trouble, it gets the defendant in trouble because if you violate the no-contact order then they can revoke your bonds, they can jail while the case is pending.
A Defendant Must Be Aware of the Potential Consequences Involved When Responding to Contact Initiated by the Alleged Victim
A lot of times people think, ‘alright well, who’s going to know, I can have contact because we need to and she’s the one initiating it or he’s the one initiating it and they text each other or they talk to each other and everything’s fine and then two weeks later, three weeks later they get into another argument and the complaining witness goes and tells the prosecutor that here she’s been having contact with them and next thing you know it’s that defendant who’s having their bond revoked, not the complaining witness who did all the initiation of the contact. You have to be careful because these are very touchy situations. Sometimes things work out and sometimes they don’t and people have to be aware of what can go wrong.