Violation of Protective Orders

Protective Order Violations in Virginia Beach

Protective orders can be issued in cases involving an act of violence or the threat of an act of violence. Most protective orders are issued ex parte, based on the unchallenged sworn statement of one party. If any individual believes they are in threat of bodily injury, such as may be the case for an alleged stalking charge, they may appear before a magistrate and request a protective order be entered.

In matters where a person has been charged with a criminal offense of violence, such as domestic assault and battery or sexual assault, the magistrate is required to issue an emergency protective order that lasts for 72 hours. If the alleged victim desires that protective order to remain in effect beyond the 72 hours, they must request that from a judge, again ex parte. The judge will then issue a temporary protective order, and then the judge must set a hearing within two weeks where the defendant can challenge the merits of the protective order. After the hearing, the judge may issue a permanent protective order for up to two years.

Protective orders may have extremely rigid requirements, such as “no contact” with the victim; or they may have more relaxed conditions, such as “no hostile contact” with the victim. When the orders are issued between parents of minor children, the order may include restrictions on contact with the children as well. Protective orders issued between people who share a residence or personal property may also award exclusive possession to the residence or automobile to the victim, and may also order the defendant to not interfere with the household utilities, such as gas, electric, cable or phone service.

Punishments for Violating A Protective Order

Violations of protective orders carry severe penalties, even for first offenses. The law in Virginia requires that a judge issue a mandatory jail sentence, even for first-time offenders. The law allows a judge discretion in the amount of jail time for a first offense; however, a second offense within five years requires a mandatory 60 days in jail. If a person is convicted of three violations within 20 years, the third offense is a felony with a 6 month mandatory sentence.

In addition, if the defendant commits an assault and battery against the protected individual while under a protective order, or if they enter the home of the protected person, they may be charged with a felony (in addition to being charged with burglary or trespassing) and face a mandatory jail sentence.

Defenses to Protective Order Violations

For any alleged violation of a protective order, the individual must be on notice that a protective order is in place. Therefore, when a protective order is initially issued, it must be personally served on the defendant by a sheriff or police officer. If the order has not been personally served on the defendant, he can not be found guilty of the violation.

Judges generally take a “zero tolerance” approach to violations of protective orders. However, depending on the acts resulting in the violation, a criminal defense attorney may be able to explain the acts as something other than a violation. Were their emergency circumstances involved, such as an accident involving minor children? Was the act giving rise to the violation unintentional, such as a mis-dialed phone number or a chance meeting at the grocery store?

If you’ve been charged with violation of a protective order in Virginia Beach, our criminal defense lawyers can build a defense for you. Contact our office today (757) 422-4646 to talk to an attorney about your case. Our phone are answered 24/7/365 for your convenience.

Virginia Statutes:

§ 18.2-60.3. Stalking; penalty.
§ 18.2-60.4. Violation of protective orders; penalty.
§ 18.2-60.5. Unauthorized use of electronic tracking device; penalty.