When the court issues an order of protection, (restraining order), you are expected to abide by it. Even if you believe the order was issued in error, you are still required by law to adhere to the rules included within. If you are found in violation of any of the aspects of the order you could face additional charges. Charges like this are nothing to take lightly, as they can play a significant role in any pending cases and result in both jail time and fines.
Orders of protection from abuse are most commonly seen in domestic violence cases, though they are used in other cases of harassment and stalking as well. If you are named in an order like this, you were no doubt told to keep your distance from the other party.
These orders can also demand compliance in other areas including:
- Denying contact by phone, email or other manners
- Limiting contact with any shared children
- Removing you from your own home
- Setting up temporary support payments
Orders like these can be difficult to deal with, particularly if you feel they have been issued in error. But, no matter how wrong you believe the order is, you must follow it or risk immediate arrest and further charges.
If you are found in violation of a protection order, you can be immediately arrested and charged with indirect criminal contempt of court.
Pennsylvania Criminal Contempt Penalties
If you are held in contempt of court, the process is different than other criminal charges. You will not be afforded a jury trial, though you are allowed to retain counsel. In situations like these, an attorney can help ensure your rights are protected throughout the entire process.
Criminal contempt is punishable by:
- Up to 6 months in jail and fines from $300 to $1,000, or
- Up to 6 months’ probation and fines from $300 to $1,000.
(Ref: PA Code §23-6114)
Beyond these legal penalties, you have to look at how a violation like this can affect any criminal or civil cases you have pending. If the order was issued in the midst of a custody battle, for instance, you violating it will not bode well in your custody case. Similarly, if you are facing domestic violence charges, a violation of a protection order does not indicate someone who has the alleged victim’s best interests in mind.
Because the stakes are high when dealing with a charge like this, you need an advocate working in your corner to get you the best results possible. Contact our offices today for a consultation on your case.