If you have had a protective order filed against you, you may be feeling frustrated, angry, or scared about what this means for your future. To help you better understand your rights and make the right choices moving forward, our criminal defense attorneys in Raleigh are sharing what to do if you have a restraining order filed against you.
Understanding Protective Orders in NC
The term “restraining order” is a frequently-used term, but from a legal standpoint, you would be served with one of two types of protective orders, depending on the circumstances.
Domestic Violence Protective Order
A Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO), also called a 50B order, is for familial and personal relationships. This will be filed against you if the individual filing is:
- A spouse or romantic partner
- Ex-spouse or former romantic partner
- Someone with whom you share a child
- Family member, including sibling, child, or parent
Civil No-Contact Order
A Civil No-Contact Order is filed against someone with whom the accuser has no personal relationship. This may be placed against someone accused of stalking, harassing behavior, or non-consensual sexual contact. It may also be filed against a neighbor in cases of property disputes or former employees threatening their former workplace.
Receiving a Protective Order
When an individual files for a protective order, the judge will listen to their complaint and, depending on the circumstances, place a temporary protective order against you. This is also called an “ex parte order” and is designed to only last 10 days as you were not in court to defend yourself against allegations. However, the judge found enough compelling evidence to find in favor of the alleged victim until the court could hear from both parties in a hearing.
When you receive notice of a protective order, you will receive the ex parte order, a copy of the court filing, and a summons to a hearing. There will also be instructions to follow, including:
- Surrendering firearms to local sheriff;
- Leaving a shared home in the case of a 50B;
- Following a temporary custody arrangement of shared children;
- Maintaining a specific distance from the accurser
- Stopping contact with the accuser;
What to Do When Served with a Protective Order
If a sheriff arrives to serve a temporary restraining order, you may feel shocked or angry, which is normal. You may also feel that it would be a good idea to contact the accuser and explain the situation or try to get them to drop the claim. However, it’s important you do these three things instead:
Follow the Sheriff’s Instructions
Regardless of how you feel in the moment, it’s important to stay calm and follow the sheriff’s instructions. Even if your accuser’s claims are false or misrepresent the circumstances, you will have your chance to share this in court. Trying to argue or refusing to leave the home may result in criminal charges or negative marks during the hearing.
Follow the Guidelines of the Protective Order
You may also think about contacting your accuser to explain your actions, attempt to apologize, or ask them to drop the claim. Again, this may put you in jeopardy of breaking the protective order, which is a criminal offense. Do not contact the individual who filed the protective order, and follow the instructions outlined to ensure your actions can’t be used against you during your hearing.
Contact a Defense Lawyer Immediately
As soon as possible, reach out to a criminal defense lawyer to represent you during your hearing. Even if you know the claims are false or there was a miscommunication or misunderstanding, your attorney can explain the circumstances in a way that will best represent you. They will create a defense strategy for your hearing, help you avoid incriminating yourself, and work to protect your rights and reputation.
Speak with a Criminal Defense Attorney in Raleigh 24/7
Make sure you have an experienced legal advocate on your side during your protective order hearing and schedule a free consultation with Sandman, Finn, & Fitzhugh. We are dedicated to helping you through your legal challenges so you can move forward with the best practical outcomes. Call us at (919) 887-8040 or fill out the form below to get started.