A restraining order is intended to protect a victim from unwanted harassment, threats, or any sort of contact from the defendant. Once someone has a restraining order filed against them, they are not to contact in any way the victim named in that order. Courts will spell out in clear detail all of the different ways that the defendant must keep their distance.
When everything works properly, defendants understand the order and keep their distance as required by law. Problems arise when people reach out to the victim in violation of that order. The following case serves as an example.
A Convicted Stalker Released From Jail Lands Right Back in Jail
40-year-old Michael Strzelczyk of Wayne, New Jersey, spent time in jail in 2021 for a variety of offenses, including harassment and a restraining order violation. He was released at the end of November 2021 after eight months locked away. As soon as he returned home, he immediately started emailing the victim, a violation of his probation. He was arrested on New Year's Eve and charged with making terroristic threats against the victim in addition to harassment and stalking. He was also charged with contempt of court and obstruction. He is currently being held in the county jail.
Understand and Abide By Every Part of Your Restraining Order
If there has been a restraining order filed against you, you must obey every single part of that order. Restraining orders are very detailed, and they list out exactly all of the different ways that you as a defendant must refrain from contacting the plaintiff listed in order.
These days, there are so many different ways to contact people. You can contact them by text, phone, email, social media, letter, package delivery service, and a host of other different communication means. The point of the order protection is to make the plaintiff feel safe from any type of contact from you.
The court has already established that your contact with the plaintiff has created a threat, and you must obey the order to the letter, or you will find yourself back in jail. Ignorance of the law is not a defense, so if you try to tell the court that you didn't realize that sending a group text that included the victim wasn't allowed, none of that will make a difference.
What Are Some of the Punishments for Violating an Order of Protection?
Violating a protection order is a serious offense. It shows the court that not only are you refusing to leave the victim alone, but you're also ignoring the court's order.
While many protective orders are not filed in a criminal court, violating a protection order could have the case transferred to criminal court. If the violation of the order is classified as a felony, the repercussions can be extremely serious. Punishment could be anything from getting a serious fine to being sentenced to prison.
What to Do if You Have Any Questions About Your Restraining Order
A restraining order is no joke. If you have a restraining order filed against you, and you are unclear as to what it means, reach out for legal help. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has worked for years with clients who are dealing with protective orders, and he knows what to do to keep them in good legal standing.