The Temptation of Texting, Calling, or Writing with a No Contact Order—Don’t
Unfortunately, despite popular belief, not all attorneys are rich. However, many more would be rich if we had a nickel every time we heard a client with a protection order against him (or her) say, “but she (or he) texted me first!” After all—how is it fair that you can get in trouble for texting someone when they started the conversation? Or for picking up the phone when they call? It may not be fair, but it is the law.
Here’s the fact. If you have been ordered to have no contact, either in a criminal case or because of a civil restraining order, no contact means no contact. None. Zip. Zero. Not if there is an earthquake. Not if there are nuclear missiles raining down on Colorado from the sky. Not even if the Rockies win the World Series.
I know. This sounds harsh. But I promise it is said in a spirit of tough love. Here’s the problem with contact when you are ordered to have none. It will result in either a new charge or contempt of court (usually a new criminal charge). Violating a civil restraining order (the same thing as a protection order) is a Class 2 Misdemeanor, subject to 3-12 months in jail and a possible fine of $250-$1,000. Violating a criminal protection order is a Class 1 Misdemeanor, subject to 6-24 months in jail, and a possible fine of $500 to $5,000.
What about when you have a pending criminal case already? Well, that sweet deal your attorney almost had worked out for you is likely gone. It is much harder for your attorney to get you a great disposition on a case when there are now two cases instead of just one.
I don’t want to sound like we Criminal Defense Attorneys are not sympathetic. Anyone that has practiced in Criminal Law for long has a certain understanding of how this can happen. A loving couple has a bad night, one of them gets arrested for a dumb incident, and the judge orders no contact with the “victim”. The “victim” sends the defendant a text saying “I’m sorry honey—I didn’t mean for this to happen.” You respond, “It’s ok—I love you, we’ll get through this together.” Very sweet right? Yes. And if law enforcement or the District Attorney finds out about it, a new charge as well.
Often such instances arise from the opposite situation. A couple is going through a nasty divorce. One spouse calls the police on the other spouse and exaggerates facts to gain an upper hand in the custody battle, charges are filed, the defendant is arrested, and the court orders no contact with the “victim”. The “victim” then proceeds to leave dozens of voicemails for the “defendant” spouse berating him or her. Finally, the “defendant” spouse succumbs to the constant calls, picks up the phone, and says “leave me alone, I don’t want to talk to you!” You guessed it—Violation of a Criminal Protection Order.
I once saw a case where a defendant was charged with violating a domestic violence related Protection Order for sending a Mother’s Day card with a kind sentiment to the mother of his children. True story.
Bottom line, no contact means no contact, not even through a third party or with Mother’s Day card. If you need to contact the other party for any legitimate reason, go through your attorney. Otherwise, no matter what your intentions, you may well be exposing yourself to a criminal charge.