What Am I Facing For Violating A Protective Order In Virginia?

by J.D. Garrett on August 11, 2013

Protective orders (a.k.a., restraining orders in other jurisdictions) in Virginia are issued when there has been any act of violence, force or threat against an individual. A protective order may be issued based on an allegation of said acts, and does not require a conviction. It is conceivable, and quite often the situation, where an individual is ultimately found not guilty of any criminal act, but nevertheless is subject to the terms of a protective order.

When a protective order is issued and served on the defendant, they are held to a strict adherence to the terms of the protective order. Any violation of a protective order, regardless of how minor, is punishable by a jail sentence. If the order indicates no contact, it means just that, no contact of any kind. Even a simple text message stating, “I’m sorry,” will be considered a violation.

A violation of a protective order is a Class one misdemeanor, and punishment for violating a protective order in Virginia is extremely severe. The law provides little discretion to a judge when issuing punishments once someone is found in violation. A first time violation (even for a simple text message like mentioned above) will result in a mandatory jail sentence. A judge is required to issue some period of jail time, and is further prohibited under the law from suspending all of that time. As a result, the mandatory minimum sentence for a first-time violation is a night in jail. For subsequent offenses involving an act or threat of violence, the punishments are far worse. A second offense within five years is a mandatory 60 days in jail; a third offense within 20 years is a felony carrying a mandatory 6 months in jail.


J.D. Garrett is a criminal law attorney in the Virginia Beach office of Garrett Law Group, PLC. He has years of experience representing clients in the courts of Virginia Beach, Norfolk and surrounding areas.

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