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Intimate relationships are some of life’s most rewarding connections, but they’re also some of the most complex. Among the most challenging and toxic are relationships that involve family violence or domestic abuse.
The State of Minnesota takes domestic abuse seriously and provides several legal tools for separating individuals in an effort to keep them safe. Two orders commonly used by victims of domestic assault are an Order for Protection and a No Contact Order, both of which place restrictions on the alleged abuser’s contact with the other party.
Although these orders are certainly useful for protecting vulnerable partners, they don’t always tell the full story or account for all the events that took place. Regardless, violation of these orders can trigger harsh repercussions, including misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor and even felony charges.
If you’ve been charged with violating an Order for Protection or a No Contact Order, you could be in serious legal trouble. The smartest thing you can do is contact a trusted criminal defense attorney who has experience defending people accused of violating protective orders.
This article will explain the difference between an Order for Protection and a No Contact Order, as well as the penalties for violating each. Keep reading to learn more.
No matter what you were accused of, you deserve a chance to explain yourself. An experienced criminal defense attorney at Toepfer at Law can help tell your story. Give us a call at (320) 497-4416 to set up an appointment with one of our legal experts.
An Order for Protection is a court order intended to stop family violence. At its most basic, it orders the abuser not to hurt you, but it can also do the following:
To be clear, an Order for Protection is not a criminal case; it is issued in family court and is only available to those who have suffered domestic abuse at the hands of a household member. However, if the police are called for violence or threats of violence, they may start an additional criminal investigation.
Family or household members are not limited to spouses and romantic partners. They could also be the following:
Although Orders for Protection do not start out as criminal issues, any violation is automatically subject to criminal penalties. It also constitutes contempt of court and is subject to penalties for contempt, according to Minnesota Statute 518B.01.
If a law enforcement officer believes a respondent is violating an order for protection, they can arrest and hold them in custody for at least 36 hours. During that time, the respondent will see a judge to determine if a bond should be issued to dissuade them from future violations upon their release. They will also receive another No Contact Order that may or may not have different provisions than the original.
The penalties for violating an Order for Protection depend on a number of factors. If this is the alleged abuser’s first time violating a protective order and they didn’t use a weapon, it will likely be charged as a misdemeanor. Additional punishments include at least three days in custody and mandated domestic abuse programming or counseling.
If the respondent has been convicted of a prior qualified domestic violence-related offense in the past 10 years, they will likely be charged with a gross misdemeanor. Their sentence must include at least 10 days in custody and mandated domestic abuse programming or counseling.
Lastly, if the respondent has at least two prior qualified domestic violence-related offense convictions within the past 10 years OR commits the alleged violation while armed with a dangerous weapon, their crime will likely be charged as a felony. Their sentence must include a minimum of 30 days in custody in addition to mandated domestic abuse programming or counseling.
A No Contact Order differs from an Order for Protection in a few key ways. Whereas an Order for Protection is granted by a family court, a No Contact Order is issued as part of a criminal case when someone is charged with domestic abuse, harassment or stalking. In some cases, a No Contact Order is issued as a condition of pretrial release or as a condition of probation.
Violating a No Contact Order can result in criminal charges. Similar to when respondents violate an Order for Protection, if law enforcement officers have probable cause to think a No Contact Order was violated, they must arrest the violator and hold them in custody for at least 36 hours.
Like punishments for violating an Order for Protection, violating a No Contact Order can result in a combination of jail time and fines, depending on the prior convictions and the circumstances surrounding the current violation.
According to Minnesota Statute 629.75, any person who knowingly violates a No Contact Order is guilty of a misdemeanor. They are guilty of a gross misdemeanor if they violate the order within 10 years of a previous qualified domestic violence-related offense conviction, which carries the same penalties as a gross misdemeanor violating an Order for Protection.
Lastly, a person is guilty of a felony and may be sentenced up to five years in prison and order to pay up to $10,000 in fines if either of the following two scenarios are true:
Although the punishment for violating a No Contact Order has the potential to be harsher than the penalties for violating an Order for Protection, each carries serious consequences.