Restraining Orders/ Abuse Prevention Orders/ 209A violations
If you have been served with notice of a 209A restraining order, you should contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. While a temporary 10-day order may issue, you have the right to contest a full 1-year order. It is important to contact an attorney as soon as you receive such notice, so that the attorney may have time to investigate, prepare, and also clear his schedule for your court date. Judges are often reluctant NOT to grant the order against you, for public policy reasons. The standard to issue the order is much lower than proof in a criminal case; the judge just needs to be satisfied that the petitioner has a reasonable fear of harm. If a full 209A order is issued, you will forever be entered into a nationwide criminal database, even though a restraining order is civil in nature. The order may prevent you from contacting certain people (even your own children), where you can go (you can be forced to evacuate your own home), and you will be required to surrender any firearms that you may have. You have a lot to lose at these hearings, so it is important to be represented by an experienced, skillful defense attorney.
If you are alleged to have violated a 209A restraining order, you are now facing a CRIMINAL CHARGE. Violation of a 209A order carries up to 2 ½ years in jail and a $5,000 fine. It is extremely important that you NOT contact the alleged victim in your case, and your first point of contact should be your defense attorney. We will help you every step of the way. You might be facing a violation for even the most innocent set of circumstances, such as indirect communication with the alleged victim, or a “butt dial” from your phone. Regardless of the alleged violation, DO NOT try to resolve the issue on your own. Doing so could result in an unintended admission of guilt- let your attorney handle your defense.
If a 209A restraining order has already been issued against you, it is usually very difficult to terminate the order without the consent of the petitioner, unless you have documented, reliable proof that the petitioner lied to the court. Usually, witness testimony of a third party in and of itself is not enough to vacate an order. A change or circumstance, however, may be grounds to modify an order. For example, if you have been ordered to stay 100 yards away from your spouse, but a new job requires you to travel past his/ her street once a week, a modification to the original order may be justified. It is important to know that the modification must be entered by the same judge who issued the original 209A restraining order. It is important that you contact a skilled to defense attorney, as there are very particular procedural and substantive rules that must be followed for a 209A modification to be granted.
If you are facing a 209A restraining order, or if you are charged with violating such an order, contact our office immediately: