What You Need to Know About Your Order of Protection

July 22, 2016

An order of protection (“OP”) can come in different shapes and sizes.  But if one has been issued against you, you better damn well know exactly what you can and can’t do, because not knowing and making even an innocent mistake can land you in jail facing a new criminal charge.

An OP can be issued by either a criminal court or family court.  But regardless of what court issued the OP, your obligations and the consequences for violating the terms of the order are the same.

The two most important things you need to know about an OP against you are: 1) what you’re not allowed to do, and 2) how long it lasts.

What Are Your Restrictions?

This is really the most important thing you need to know about your OP.  Some orders are more restrictive than others, and some have special exceptions included to account for proceedings in other courts or special circumstances.  Generally, an OP will be either a “limited order” (you may also hear it referred to as a “LOOP” or “a refrain from”), or a “full order” (“FOOP” or “stay away”).

Make sure you know what type of order was issued against you and what your specific restrictions are before you even walk out of the courthouse (or if you were served with an OP outside of court, call a lawyer immediately!).  Ask your lawyer to tell you EXACTLY what you are not allowed to do.  If you don’t like your lawyer’s answer, ask the judge.  Because if you do violate the terms of an OP, the “I didn’t know I couldn’t do that” defense never works.

How Long Does It Last?

No order of protection can last forever; they all expire sooner or later.  But getting that date wrong and acting too soon will also jam you up.  Depending on your type of case or where you are in the court process, an OP can have different durations/expiration dates.  Some last only as long as the prosecution lasts (“temporary orders”), other can last for years after the case is resolved (“final” or “permanent orders”, even though they’re not actually permanent).  And to complicate matters even further, different types of permanent orders have different durations, too; some are 1 year, while others can be up to 5 or even 8 years!  And just like telling the court that you didn’t know you couldn’t do that thing that you did doesn’t work, telling the court you didn’t know the order was still in effect will not win you any points either.

An OP is a very serious document issued in very serious situations by very serious people who take a violation of it as a very serious matter.  Don’t play around with it.  Don’t see what you “can get away with.”  The best way to help yourself and your case/defense is to know exactly what it says and exactly what it means, and conduct yourself exactly in accordance with it.  Piling charges on to your case for stupid violations only hurts your case…and your wallet.

If you or someone you care about has been or thinks they may be the subject of an order of protection issued by either a criminal court or a family court, call the experienced attorneys at Catalano & Carpenter LLP today at (845) 454-1919 to schedule a free consultation.

Catalano & Carpenter LLP – Your Hudson Valley Criminal Defense Attorneys