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How much trouble can I get in for violating a restraining order?

On Behalf of | Jun 30, 2021 | Criminal Defense

It may have been a misunderstanding, but your intimate partner got a protective order against you. How serious would it be to violate that order?

It could get you into very big trouble, depending on the situation. Knowingly violating a valid protective order, including one from another state, can be charged as a Class A1 misdemeanor, which is the most serious type of misdemeanor. A Class A1 misdemeanor is punishable by between 1 and 150 days in jail and a fine. The potential jail time depends on how many prior convictions you have on your record as well as the seriousness of your offense

There can be more serious charges, however. For example, if you commit a felony while you were aware that you were subject to a protective order, you could be charged with one class higher than that felony is usually charged with.

If you have two prior domestic violence offenses on your record and you knowingly violate a protective order, you could be charged with a Class H felony. A Class H felony is punishable by a maximum of 39 months behind bars.

Another Class H felony is knowingly violating the order by failing to stay away from the people or places described in the order while you are in possession of a deadly weapon.

Finally you can also be charged with a Class H felony if your violation involves entering a domestic violence shelter or safe house, regardless of whether or not your loved one is there.

Is the protective order against me valid?

It’s important to know whether the order is valid because, if it is not, you are not guilty of the crimes described above. That said, North Carolina law considers ex parte and emergency orders to be valid for the purpose of this statute. So, even if you haven’t been given a chance to defend yourself yet, you could still be found guilty of violating the order so long as you had knowledge that an order had been entered.

If a domestic violence protection order has been entered against you, the best advice is to follow that order to the letter. If it is early in the process, you may have a chance to prevent the order from becoming permanent by challenging the need for it at a court hearing. Talk to a criminal defense attorney right away if you have been summoned to a hearing about a protective order or if you are accused of violating a protective order.