What Happens When A Restraining Order Is Violated?


What you may think of as restraining orders aren’t actually called “restraining orders” under Arizona law. The state of Arizona refers to them as Orders of Protection or Injunctions Against Harassment. The name of the Order or Injunction doesn’t make much of a difference, however. If you’re found violating such an Order, there can be serious consequences. Even though many protective orders are based on seemingly trivial, or even outright frivolous, grounds, that doesn’t in any way impact the potential consequences for failing to obey them.

How Restraining Orders Work

An Order of Protection or Injunction Against Harassment will come with specific terms. All involve no contact between at least two people – but the relationship between those people are what sets them apart. The majority of these orders are in place for a year, though some protective orders can be more temporary. Some might make minor exceptions for individuals that have children in common, or where there are other mitigating factors that might make the order an unreasonable inconvenience.

These orders do need to be followed to the letter, however. Any deviation from the terms of the order constitutes a violation of the order – called interference with judicial proceedings. Violations of such an order come with legal consequences that might also complicate any criminal or family-law cases you’re currently involved in – especially criminal cases that share the same facts as the restraining order.

Challenging A Restraining Order

Protective orders can be challenged. But they must be successfully challenged before they’re violated. Challenging an order after violation is too little, too late in the eyes of the court. A person served with such an order doesn’t need to consent to the order or even be a part of the petition proceedings at all. These things happen without you, and you’re served with the completed order once it has been granted.

Upon being served with such an order, you have a right to challenge it by requesting a hearing. The hearing needs to take place within ten days of your request, but must happen within five days if the order prohibits you from entering your residence. During the hearing, you then become a part of the process. The judge listens to and considers your version of events and may vacate or make modifications to the order. Oftentimes, if requested, a reciprocal Order is put in place that will prevent you from being contacted by the person who requested the initial order against you.

Any modification of an order that may come as a result of your challenge will typically make it harder to violate the order. A modification will render the order more reasonable under all the known circumstances. This means that actions that may have been forbidden in the original order (such as picking up children to visit with them) may be changed in your favor (if the judge, for example, doesn’t find you a threat to the children). Always challenge protective orders if you feel that they’re too broad.

Violating A Restraining Order

Violating a protective order is grounds for immediate arrest. You may stay in jail until the judge handling your case determines that you are no longer a risk to violate. The judge will attempt to find a way to make you abide by that order, even if it means sentencing you up to six months in jail for being convicted for violating that order. Along with jail time comes fines as high as $2,500 plus substantial surcharges. Violating a protective order is an expensive class 1 misdemeanor to deal with.

Defenses Against Violating A Restraining Order

The permission of the person who sought the order against you doesn’t override the powers of the order with which you were served. This means that if your significant other was granted an order of protection from you, and that same person apologizes and actively seeks your company, you can still be arrested for meeting with them or even talking with them. The individual does not have the power to override the order – it can only be dismissed by a judge.

A great attorney can help you persuade the state to drop charges filed against your for a violation with the help of the individual who wants to rescind the order they have against you. By having the protective order underlying the criminal violation case formally lifted, the conversations necessary to facilitate these negotiations can safely and legally take place.

One of the strongest defenses against violating an Order of Protection or Injunction Against Harassment is that the plaintiff set you up to violate. If the individual who sought the order against you deliberately shows up at a place where you were otherwise allowed to be or uses outside sources to lure you into violating the order against your will and calls the police, you may not be criminally culpable. A competent attorney will be able to help you prove up this defense.

Getting Legal Help

If you’ve been charged with violating a restraining order, you need the help of an attorney. At The Law Office of Doug Taylor in Tucson, we represent people in your position. You can contact us right now for a free consultation. We will speak with you about your case and help you develop a proper defense against the charges you’re facing.