Westchester County Restraining Order Lawyer

Whenever a person is accused of committing a criminal offense against another person, the alleged victim may be protected by a court-issued restraining order. This restraining order is intended to protect the alleged victim against any further abuse while the case is being decided.

While all restraining orders start as temporary orders, as they only last during the length of the case. If the defendant is found guilty, the order can be made permanent. These orders can affect almost every aspect of a defendant’s life including where they may live, where they can travel, and their ability to see their children.

Westchester County restraining order lawyers fight tirelessly against the imposition of these orders for those who face them, as well as in defense of those accused of violating these orders. If you face a restraining order, speak with a hardworking domestic violence attorney that could advocate for you.

When Can a Restraining Order be Issued?

Whenever criminal charges are issued against a defendant, the District Attorney’s Office takes the lead in prosecuting the case. One of the steps they can take is to examine whether the alleged crime was committed against a specific person. When this is the case, the District Attorney’s Office may request that a temporary order of protection be issued during the defendant’s first court appearance.

This order is meant to limit the contact that the defendant can have with the alleged victim. Naturally, the order is issued so as to not inconvenience the alleged victim. This means that if the defendant and the alleged victim share a home, the defendant may be forced to leave. If the two people share a school, or parent children together, this order will also affect those relationships. It is easy to see how this order can throw a defendant’s life into chaos. Therefore, if someone is the respondent of a restraining order, they should hire a Westchester County lawyer to help them fight an order that is creating unnecessary difficulties in their life.

How Long Will the Order Remain in Effect?

This order remains in effect until the charges are dealt with. If the defendant is found not guilty, or the charges are dropped, the order expires. However, if the defendant is convicted or pleads guilty, the order can be extended for a minimum of one year. Westchester County lawyers defend individuals facing charges in criminal court against both the underlying criminal charges and against any restraining orders that may unfairly limit their rights.

It is impossible to modify the terms of an Order of Protection without a court order. This is true even if the reporting victim in a criminal investigation requests that an order of protection is dropped. Once the order is issued, only the courts have the power to remove it or alter its terms. An attorney could petition to change or remove an Order of Protection.

What is the Difference Between Full and Limited Orders of Protection?

Not all orders of protection are created equally. State law recognizes both full and limited orders of protection. A full order of protection bars the accused from having any contact with the complaining witness whatsoever for as long as the order stands. This prevents in-person contact, phone conversations, or interactions online. Even interacting on social media is prohibited. This also prevents contact through intermediaries.

Alternatively, there are also limited orders of protection. These orders allow some limited contact with the reporting witness as long as it is not harmful. These orders prohibit stalking, harassment, menacing, or other harmful conduct that would otherwise be unlawful. A limited order allows the accused to interact socially or even live with the reporting witness. This relationship can continue as long as there are no additional problems.

Consequences for Violating a Restraining Order

Any order of protection is an official order issued by the court. This means that a violation of this order is considered a criminal offense. New York Penal Law §215.51, called Criminal Contempt in the first-degree, states that when a defendant knows of an order of protection and causes the subject of that order to be in fear of physical harm, this behavior is a Class E felony.

If the defendant has a prior conviction of criminal contempt or actually causes harm to the subject of the order, the charge becomes Aggravated Criminal Contempt under New York Penal Law §215.52. This upgrades the charges to a Class D Felony. A conviction for a felony remains on a person’s criminal record and can result in significant prison sentences. A Westchester County lawyer could help mitigate the consequences that a person may face if they have been accused of violating a restraining order.

Contact a Westchester County Restraining Order Attorney

When a person is charged with a crime they are concerned with the potential punishments. But under New York law, even people waiting for a trial may be punished through the use of orders of protection.

These orders can force defendants to move out of their home, abandon their jobs or education, and lose contact with their children. Obtaining representation that can contest both the criminal charges and the issuance of any protective orders can make all the difference.

An initial protective order can be decided during an initial court hearing so time is of the essence. Contact a Westchester County restraining order lawyer today.

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