Virginia courts issue protective orders when there is substantial evidence, or threats, of violence between two parties. A protective order, as the name suggests, prohibits the aggressive party from coming into contact with the alleged victim, sometimes with a specific distance – for instance, the defendant may be directed to keep a 100-feet distance from the alleged victim for the duration of the protective order.
Having a protective order taken out against you is a big deal. Depending on the circumstances that led to its issuance, a violation can attract harsh penalties, including fines, an arrest and even imprisonment. In a divorce setting, violating a restraining order can also impact your child custody case.
Here are two missteps you want to avoid at all costs where there is an active protective order against you.
1. Contacting your alleged victim
Generally, a protection order will bar you from contacting the protected party either directly or indirectly. This means that you cannot call, text or email the alleged victim. It also means that you cannot use your surrogates to contact them. If you have to contact your alleged victim, say for purposes of visiting your child, be sure to seek direction from the court.
2. Accepting invitations to meet the protected party
If an order of protection expressly prohibits you from contacting the other party, be sure to observe it. Sometimes, your alleged victim might want to reach out to talk things out. And you might be tempted to accept the initiative – after all, you want peace.
However, this can be a costly mistake. An order of protection, once issued by the court, must stay until the same court or a higher one lifts it. If the other party is trying to extend an olive branch, do not respond.
If you find yourself a subject of a protective order, it is crucial that you get ahead of the situation as soon as you can. Knowing your legal options can help you safeguard your rights and interests while dealing with a protective order.