What Happens If You Violate a Restraining Order?

Most people know what a restraining order is. It’s a binding legal order issued by a court that victims commonly use to protect themselves against aggressors. 

In most cases, a restraining order is filed against someone for stalking, harassing, or domestic abuse.

But what happens when a restraining order is broken?

Unfortunately, this happens quite often. Aggressors and even victims can violate the terms of their restraining order without understanding the consequences. 

So in this article, we’ll go over the typical legal ramifications of violating a restraining order so you can know what to expect. Let’s get started!

How Restraining Orders Are Violated

Nearly any contact between a victim and an aggressor can violate a restraining order. 

That can mean visiting the victim’s home or simply contacting them via phone or text message. The contact can be relatively benign and still violate terms. 

No contact means absolutely none. And this applies to newer forms of communication on social media as well. 

What Happens If a Restraining Order is Violated?

Violating a restraining order is considered a crime. Anybody who does it is subject to punishment by law. 

In most cases, this means facing fines, jail time, or both. But other consequences can include getting a probation or completing a domestic violence class. Every case is different, so the penalty will vary. 

However, there are some broad categorizations for restraining order violations you should know. Most are classified as a misdemeanor but sometimes they can be considered a felony. Typically, it’s a felony if the violation is combined with another crime like violence or property damage. 

On the one hand, a misdemeanor can lead to a jail sentence of up to a year and a few thousand dollars in fines. On the other hand, a felony could mean 5 years or more in prison and even larger fines.

So be careful not to violate the terms of the restraining order under any circumstances. 

Advice for Maintaining a Restraining Order

If you have a restraining order against someone and they break it, contact the police immediately. It’s best to have the restraining order document on you at all times just in case this happens. That way, you have immediate proof to show the police. 

You also want to make sure you don’t accidentally break your own restraining order. If you do, you might make it harder to enforce later on. Plus, if you’re the one to initiate contact, you make it easier for the defendant to modify or dismiss the order. The best thing to do in these cases is find a good family lawyer. 

If you are the aggressor and you’ve violated the restraining order, find an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help you. After all, some cases are not clear cut. You may have dialed the victim on accident or needed to arrange handing off a child for childcare. Whatever the case may be, defendants can get legal help, too.

Final Thoughts

As you can tell, restraining orders are serious and you don’t want to violate them. But if you do, at least you now know what the legal ramifications are. 

And if you ever find yourself in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Most lawyers will freely answer your questions in a consultation. 

Otherwise, you can always look for reliable websites online for answers. But it’s always best to get a professional opinion. And even if you need to hire legal help, it may be well worth it once all is said and done. 


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