It is never easy to deal with domestic violence cases. Apart from the fact that you have to drag your intimate family affairs into a courtroom, it may be necessary for the courts to impose an Order of Protection (OOP), also known as a protective or restraining order against an alleged abuser. This often happens when there is a history of harassment, stalking, physical or emotional abuse. While such orders ought to protect victims, they also have the potential of causing unpleasant collateral effects. The Phoenix Criminal Attorney will help you challenge Orders of Protection and Injunctions Against Harassment. We can provide the guidance you need to see you through the due legal process.
Your family’s welfare is our number one priority, and we can help you expose false accusations and half-truths about abuse. For the best possible solutions, get in touch with us as soon as you are served with an OOP. Our job is to focus on finding solutions that protect your well-being and best interests.
What Are Orders of Protection?
Orders of Protection serve the core purpose of restricting a person from the possibility of committing an act of domestic violence or harassment against another individual. Usually, the orders are filed against immediate family members or persons a domestic violence victim is living with or has lived with in the past.
This could be:
- A former or current spouse
- A sexual or romantic partner
- An individual with whom you share a child
- A relative or the relative of a spouse
- Persons with familial ties like in-laws, siblings, or grandparents
If the courts issue an Orders of Protection against you, the order may include a range of provisions, including:
No Contact Provision
The no-contact provision prohibits you from coming close to the workplace, home, or school of an alleged victim. You may also be banned from visiting a list of other locations typically visited by a victim as named in the order.
Still, under the no-contact provision, you may be forbidden from contacting the victim(s) named in an order via text, calls, in person, through someone else, etc.
Stay Away Provision
The stay-away provision dictates that you stay at least a particular number of feet or yards away from the property or workplace of a victim. The ordered stay away distance will highly depend on the lethality of the accusations made against you.
Peaceful Contact Provision
This provision allows you to make contact with an alleged victim only for specific reasons. While legal action can be taken against you if you violate the terms stipulated in an OOP, such an order cannot alter child custody or visitation orders if a former spouse files a petition. The peaceful contact provision allows you to communicate for purposes like arranging a child’s transfer for visitation.
Move Out Provision
If a victim feels threatened by you, the courts may order that he or she enjoys the exclusive use of a home you once shared. In this case, a law enforcement officer will accompany you to your property to pick your belongings and move out.
When a victim claims that you can cause them physical harm, the courts may decide to order that you also turn over your weapons to law enforcement for up to one year. This can have tragic consequences, especially if you are a police officer or in the military. In case you don’t own a gun, the order may indicate that you are stripped from your rights to purchase one.
Fortunately, you still have a right to a hearing where you can contest the order. We can help you defend your gun rights, especially if you don’t pose any credible threat of violence to a victim.
This provision makes it mandatory for you to attend counseling. This could be anything from anger management counseling to a batterer’s intervention program.
What is an Injunction Against Harassment (IAH)?
There are critical differences between Orders of Protection and Injunctions Against Harassment. The latter refers to a civil court order that seeks protection against someone you don’t necessarily live with or have a relationship with. It can be filed against workmates, neighbors, landlords, friends, or acquaintances as long as:
- A defendant has been accused of harassment within the past year.
- A defendant has been accused of at least two specific harassment cases.
In Phoenix, AZ, the term “harassment” means committing a series of actions aimed at a specific person. These actions can make the victim annoyed, agitated, or alarmed, yet they don’t serve any legitimate purpose.
Before the courts decide whether or not to issue the requested injunction, victims must table evidence of harassment. A judge can then review the petition, and if good cause for an injunction is seen, a defendant is prohibited from:
- Committing specified acts of harassment against a victim
- Contacting the victim or other specified persons or going close to specified locations such as the school, workplace, or home of the plaintiff
Some of the common examples of acts of domestic violence and harassment include:
- Criminal damage
- Aggravated harassment
- Aggravated assault
- Disorderly Conduct
- Custodial Interference
- Criminal Trespass
- Abuse of a child or a vulnerable adult
- Sneaky Videotaping
- Defying a court order
- Intimidating and threatening
Other Types of Protective Orders in Phoenix, Arizona
Apart from Orders of Protection (OOP) and Injunctions Against Harassment (IAH), there are three other types of protective orders in Phoenix, Arizona. They include:
Release Orders are issued in instances where an individual accused of domestic violence is released from jail. The order contains conditions that ensure a defendant cannot harm a victim. Typically, Release Orders are used within Arizona’s rural parts, where finding a judge to issue an emergency Order of Protection is challenging.
Emergency Orders of Protection
An Emergency Order of Protection (EOP) may come in handy if a plaintiff is in imminent danger. Such an order prevents the accused from contacting or coming within a certain proximity to the plaintiff.
Here are basic facts about an EOP:
- It is a temporary order that only lasts for 14 to 21 days.
- It needs to be issued by a judge.
- The accused party does not need to be present for a judge to issue an EOP.
- A plaintiff can request for an EOP during days when the courts are closed.
- A judge may order the defendant to vacate a shared home if the threat of violence is higher than the hardship of moving out.
Injunction Against Workplace Harassment
Employers can file Injunctions Against Workplace Harassment (IAWH) on behalf of their employees. This civil court order forbids an offender from coming close to a place of business. It, by extension, protects a victim from being harassed while at work.
What to Expect If You Violate Orders of Protection
Phoenix domestic violence laws define the parameters of “domestic” relationships. If you violate a court-issued domestic violence Orders of Protection, a peace officer can arrest you with or without a warrant or arrest. A prosecutor will then charge you with a criminal violation.
Defying Orders of Protection could put you at risk of a prosecutor charging you with Interfering with Judicial Proceedings. While this is a misdemeanor charge, it could attract a one-year jail term, coupled with a fine of up to $2,500. Because violating Orders of Protection is not taken lightly in Phoenix, AZ, penalties are often punitive and ruthless.
Orders of Protection are indeed designed to protect victims of domestic abuse and harassment. While this may be the case, these orders are not immune to misuse that often leaves the rights of the defendant abused. For instance, an alleged victim could use such an OOP to gain leverage or even as a revenge tactic. We are the best criminal defense attorneys in Phoenix and can help you defend your rights if you are served with an unjust Orders of Protection or accused of violating the order.
General Guidelines for Fighting Unfair Restraining Orders/Orders of Protection
Orders of Protection and Injunctions Against Harassment are valid and enforceable when you (the defendant) is served. However, you can fight unfair orders by going to court and telling your side of the story. We can help you request a hearing contest and prepare the much-needed evidence, testimonies, and witnesses to aid in proving your innocence.
Unfortunately, the courts don’t have to take any outstanding issues into account before issuing Orders of Protection or Injunctions Against Harassment. As long as the alleged victim can provide substantial evidence, a judge may deem it fit to give the order. A protective order against you may have far-fetching repercussions, including:
- Loss of parenting time or child custody
- Termination of your rights to access your home or get close to your kids
- Control of your parenting time to allow only supervised visitations
- A drastic decrease in your chances of obtaining joint custody during divorce
Even though most people contest restraining orders because they interfere with their ability to access their homes and kids, you may also want to challenge to protect your future. Remember that such orders can appear on your background checks, messing your chances of securing certain career positions.
Contesting an order could compel the courts to quash or modify it. Once we file a motion, the plaintiff must appear in court for the hearing. If he/she fails to show, a judge will dismiss the OOP automatically. Even if you have a fair chance of winning, it is crucial to abide by the terms of enforced protective orders to avoid weakening your case.
Fighting unfair protective orders is easier said than done. Even with substantial evidence, you still need to convince the courts that changing, modifying, or dismissing the orders will not be a mistake. We understand the laws that touch on Orders of Protection and injunctions of harassment and can help you increase your chances of enjoying a suitable outcome.
Challenging or Appealing Against Orders of Protection
More often than not, Orders of Protection are a blend of criminal and family law. While this may be the case, setting up a defense against these orders or an injunction against harassment is less of a family law issue and more of a criminal law case. This makes it imperative to depend on a criminal attorney instead of a specialist in family law.
To challenge an order, you need to provide the courts with a written request for a hearing. During the hearing, the judge will take your side of the story into account. While it is not mandatory to seek an attorney’s expertise to challenge an OOP, your chances of having the orders quashed or modified are slim if you choose to represent yourself.
In case your first attempt to challenge an order fails, you can file an appeal to challenge the court’s ruling. Again, we strongly recommend seeking proper legal representation if you want to enhance your chances of enjoying a suitable outcome.
Challenging or Appealing an Injunction Against Harassment
Here’s the deal, Orders of Protection and Injunctions Against Harassment are easy to obtain because they are presumed to provide safety for potential victims of harassment and domestic violence. In the same respect, the courts prefer keeping such orders in effect because it is safer. Quashing them poses a risk of a defendant harming a victim once more and the courts turning into a target of ridicule.
Once orders are in effect, it is not easy to get them dismissed or even modified unless you can present substantial evidence to discredit the petitioner’s claims. Additionally, note that you can only challenge an order once and file an appeal once. Let us help you increase your odds of setting up a winning contest the first time.
Process of Fighting Restraining Orders
It remains imperative to put up a fight as soon as restraining orders are served. This can help increase your winning chances, as opposed to challenging the orders after months. Here is what to expect from the process.
File a written request to contest the orders. After this, the courts will schedule a hearing that will take place within ten days of filing the request. In cases where the restraining order prevents an alleged abuser from accessing his or her home, the court schedules a hearing within five days.
The next step involves preparing for the hearing. Both the plaintiff and defendant in a case are allowed to table evidence and testimonies.
Some of the areas we seek to address during a hearing to get orders dismissed or modified include:
- Falsified or exaggerated allegations.
- The lack of objective proof other than the complainant’s testimony
- Proof that a plaintiff continues to contact a defendant despite the enforced OOP.
- New evidence, such as the complainant continuing a romantic affair with the defendant (this proves that the plaintiff is not a threat or afraid of the defendant)
- Facts that leave room for doubt whether the plaintiff was genuinely afraid of the defendant. For instance, if the accuser never contacted the police or sought OOP weeks or months after a specific incident. Acts such as filing for an OOP at the same go as other legal proceedings such as divorce may also raise questions about the actual intentions of filing restraining orders.
- Evidence that proves the dishonesty of a plaintiff when filing a petition to obtain Orders of Protection.
- Proof establishing that a defendant has never abused his or her kids, meaning that including the children in the Orders of Protection is unfair.
- Confirmation that both parties participated in aggravating the situation during a disagreement. Note that while this may justify your actions and lead to an OOP’s dismissal, it could also give you a reason to file an OOP against the plaintiff.
The judge will evaluate new evidence from the contesting party. If the original orders are seen to tamper with child visitation and custody rights, the judge may make some modifications if the children involved are not perceived to be in any danger. This may allow you access to your kids, and you can perhaps pick or drop them off at specified locations.
In some instances, the judge may opt to issue reciprocal orders. Such orders restrict the original plaintiff from harassing the original defendant. Like when handling any other type of legal issue, your chances of winning or losing a contest are 50/50. However, you can increase your odds of enjoying a desirable outcome by seeking dependable legal representation from a skilled Phoenix, AZ, criminal attorney.
Find a Phoenix Criminal Attorney Near Me
In domestic violence or harassment cases, it is typical for alleged abuse victims to use Orders of Protection in an inappropriate context. These orders are easy to obtain and can be used unfairly to kick an alleged abuser out of a property or prevent him/her from accessing the kids. If an unjust order is made against you, contact the Phoenix Criminal Attorney. We will help you contest the validity of the allegations made against you. We can help you assert your rights and protect your best interests. To get in touch with our lawyer, call 602-551-8092.