Last updated on November 29, 2022

What Happens if I Violate a Restraining Order?

When served with a restraining order—sometimes referred to as a personal protection order (PPO)—one must refrain from contact with a specific person. An order contains detailed information regarding prohibited actions and behaviors concerning the person seeking protection. Any violation of the restraining order results in serious consequences under Michigan law. A simple slip-up can land you in jail, cost you fines, or possibly both. If you’re charged with violating a restraining order, contact a Michigan criminal defense lawyer without delay.

Types of Restraining Orders

A restraining order is a court order for one person to stop violence or threats against another person. The order requires a signature from a judge, and once served, it is enforceable anywhere within the United States. There are two types of restraining orders:

Domestic – For a domestic restraining order, the person served must include one of the following:

  • A spouse or former spouse
  • Someone you are dating or someone from a past relationship
  • A person who lives with you or who lived with you at one time
  • Someone with whom you have a child in common

Stalking – A stalking restraining order protects a person whose behavior and actions consist of two or more acts done without your consent. Examples of conditions that may qualify include ones that make a person feel:

  • Threatened
  • Harassed
  • Frightened
  • Molested

There are certain situations where a restraining order is not an option. A minor child, for example, cannot get an order against a parent. The same is true with a parent obtaining one against their minor child. In cases such as these, it is best for all parties to contact the Juvenile Division of Family Court.

What to Do When Served With a Restraining Order

You may receive a restraining order from a member of law enforcement, a process server, or by certified mail. Once the petitioner—the one seeking the order—learns that you have the order, they must then file a “proof of service” with the court clerk.

As the respondent—the one the petitioner is seeking protection from—it is important to read, and to understand, the order. Many restraining orders are initially temporary and last for 182 days. A court date for going before a judge at the end of the 182 days is usually set during the initial stages of the restraining order process.

Paying attention to the details of the order and to scheduled court dates is crucial for not violating the terms and for not missing court. While receiving a PPO may upset you, it is important to remain calm when served with one. It is equally important to contact a Michigan criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced restraining order lawyer can help you to better understand the order. They can also assist you with your upcoming court appearance.

When You Violate a PPO

A restraining order is a civil order—not a criminal order. The matter can quickly turn criminal if you violate the conditions of the order. Under Michigan law, an individual faces police custody if they violate one or more acts specifically prohibited in the order. This may include:

  • Assaulting, attacking, beating, wounding, or molesting a named individual
  • Removing minor children from an individual with legal custody of them
  • Entering onto a forbidden premises
  • Threatening to kill or to physically injure a named individual
  • Purchasing or possessing a firearm

Additional violations exist and may depend upon the nature of your PPO. No matter how you violate the order, either intentionally or accidentally, you face a criminal charge of contempt of court. If found guilty, the court may sentence you to as much as 93 days in jail, fine you up to $500, or choose both types of penalties.

After your arrest, it is your right to appear before the district court within 24 hours. Michigan law requires that the court set a reasonable bond and set a hearing for the alleged restraining order violation. The hearing shall occur no later than 72 hours after an arrest unless extended by a court motion by the individual charged, their defense lawyer, or the prosecutor.

Violating a restraining order is easier than you may think. For example, if the order prohibits contact with the petitioner—yet the petitioner agrees to contact—any contact is a violation of the court order regardless. One slip-up can land you in jail, resulting in missed time from work, possible job loss, and time away from family and friends.

Call a Michigan Defense Lawyer for More Information

What starts as a civil matter can turn criminal when you violate one of the prohibited actions of the order. Adhering to the specific requirements of the order is vital to avoiding contempt of court charges. Contacting the petitioner in any way violates the order and results in serious consequences for you.

Once a judge signs a restraining order, it is up to you as to how you respond. Keep your emotions in-check and consult a skilled attorney right away. A lawyer can guide you through the legal process, and should you find yourself in violation of the order, help address the situation accordingly. While each case is different, defending your actions or the circumstances regarding the violation is your right before the court.

Consider scheduling a consultation of your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney. During your free consultation, you learn information such as how your case will proceed through the courts, important deadlines, and potential pitfalls. You also learn possible defenses for your case and the likely penalties if convicted.

A restraining order can damage your relationship with others, along with current and future job opportunities. Don’t try to navigate a restraining order case on your own. Protect your legal rights, your reputation, your career, and your relationships by ensuring you understand the law. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you decide the best course of action; if you have additional questions, or are a party to a petition for a restraining order, consider reaching out to an attorney you trust.

Posted in: Criminal Defense
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