For people who have suffered domestic violence, protective orders play a pivotal role in safeguarding their rights and safety. These orders carry significant legal weight, signaling the need for respect and adherence. However, being accused of violating a protective order can force you into a legal dilemma.
At the De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration, our Las Vegas domestic violence defense lawyers understand the complex facets of this issue. This blog provides an in-depth look at the implications and details surrounding violations of protective orders in Nevada. By knowing more about the law regarding protective order violations, you can take appropriate steps to protect your rights, reputation, and freedom.
What Is a Protective Order?
A protective order, more commonly called a restraining order, is a legal decree issued by a judge to protect someone from another person accused of committing domestic violence against them. When a judge grants a protective order, it comes with explicit stipulations that the person under the order must follow. Some provisions that someone under a protective order must follow may include:
- Keeping a specified distance from the individual who sought the order.
- Avoiding all forms of contact with that individual.
- Ceasing any form of harassment directed at the protected person.
- Not approaching specified areas such as their home, workplace, school, or other crucial locations.
- A prohibition on owning or carrying firearms.
- Potentially relinquishing custody of children below the age of 18, at least temporarily.
- Upholding financial responsibilities, such as continuing to pay rent or meeting mortgage payments for the residence of the person protected by the order.
There are two kinds of protective orders under Nevada law. Temporary protective orders last up to 45 days, while extended protective orders last up to one year.
It’s also crucial to note that a protective order isn’t just a piece of paper; it’s legally binding. Once issued, the appropriate law enforcement agency is responsible for presenting the order to whomever it pertains to. This presentation serves as an official notice, ensuring the individual is fully aware of the order’s terms.
What Kinds of Criminal Cases Lead to Protective Orders?
Protective orders predominantly arise from situations or allegations involving domestic violence. Domestic violence isn’t limited to physical altercations; it encompasses a broad range of behaviors and actions that may cause harm or distress to a person within a domestic setting. When the courts believe there is a genuine risk to someone based on these allegations, they can issue a protective order to mitigate the potential harm. Some types of criminal cases that could result in a protective order include:
- Domestic Battery: Physical altercations or harm caused to a domestic partner, spouse, or family member.
- Stalking: Persistent and unwanted attention that causes an individual to feel threatened or unsafe.
- Harassment: Ongoing behaviors, either online or offline, that cause distress, fear, or discomfort.
- Sexual Assault: Any unwanted sexual action or activity without the victim’s consent.
- Child Abuse or Endangerment: Infliction of physical, emotional, or sexual harm to a minor, or exposing them to dangerous situations.
- Elder Abuse: Physical, emotional, or financial harm inflicted upon senior citizens.
- Violation of Privacy: For example, unauthorized sharing of personal or intimate details, or actions like peeping.
While domestic violence remains the primary catalyst for the issuance of protective orders, any case where someone’s safety is compromised can result in the court deciding that a protective order is necessary. The overarching goal is always to ensure the safety and well-being of those who might be at risk.
Penalties for Violating Nevada Protective Orders
According to Nevada law, intentionally violating a temporary protective order is a misdemeanor. The penalties include up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, the penalties can increase in certain circumstances.
For example, while violating an extended protective order is a misdemeanor in most circumstances, it is a gross misdemeanor if the offender has previously violated an extended order. Penalties for gross misdemeanors in Nevada include up to 364 days in jail and up to $2,000 in fines. If someone violates an extended protective order more than once in Nevada, they have committed a Category D felony. Penalties for Category D felonies include up to four years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.
With all this in mind, it’s worth noting that these penalties are for intentionally violating a protective order. If you can show that you did not intentionally violate the order, you have a good chance of avoiding these penalties.
Defense Strategies Against Protective Order Violations
Not every protective order violation is clear-cut, and there are some strategies defendants can use in court to challenge such accusations. Here are the primary defense strategies employed in these cases:
- Lack of Proper Notification: For an individual to follow the terms of a protective order, they must first know it exists and understand its stipulations. If a defendant can demonstrate that the relevant law enforcement agency failed to deliver the order or that they delivered it incorrectly, it could render any accusations of violations void.
- No Intentional Violation: A cornerstone of many legal defense strategies is intent. With protective order violations, it’s crucial to determine whether the alleged offender knowingly and deliberately violated the order. If the defense can show that any breaches were unintentional, it can significantly impact the case.
- False Accusations: There are instances where people are falsely accused of violating a protective order. In such cases, gathering evidence that disputes the claim or highlights inconsistencies in the accuser’s narrative can serve as a strong defense.
- Ambiguous Order Terms: A protective order’s language is sometimes vague or open to interpretation. If the alleged offender can demonstrate that the terms were unclear or that their actions did not violate the spirit of the order, this could serve as a potential defense.
- Physical Impossibility: In certain scenarios, the alleged offender might present evidence that they couldn’t have violated the order at the time. This could be due to being in a different location or having verifiable alibis.
It’s crucial to secure quality legal representation immediately if the authorities accuse you of violating a protective order. Waiting too long to act could make it much harder to prove your innocence. If you need legal assistance related to an alleged protective order violation, call De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration now or complete our contact form for a free consultation.