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New York City Defense Attorney for Order of Protection Violations

New York City Order of Protection Criminal Contempt Lawyer

Criminal Lawyer for Charges of Violating a Restraining Order in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn

While an order of protection (OOP), often referred to as a Temporary Order of Protection (TOP) can be a useful safety measure, this legal tool can also be misused. For example, someone may request a TOP against you, or claim that you violated a TOP, in order to advance their own interests in a hostile divorce action, child custody dispute, or domestic violence case.

Nonetheless, if you have been served with an order of protection, it is important to understand and obey all of its terms. An error made in the heat of the moment could result in criminal charges, even if you simply responded to a phone call from the protected person or went to their home to retrieve some of your personal belongings.

Watford Jackson, PLLC will defend you against any charges related to the violation of an order of protection. Attorneys Joey Jackson and Gregory J. Watford have defended clients in the criminal courts of New York City for over 45 years combined and have developed a distinguished record of success in cases involving domestic violence. You can rely on Watford Jackson to provide thoughtful counsel on your options and to be an aggressive advocate for you within the criminal justice system.

Types of Orders of Protection in New York

In New York, a criminal court may issue a TOP following a domestic violence incident or to protect a victim of stalking or other crimes. A divorce or family court may also issue such orders, sometimes referred to as temporary restraining orders (TROs), when someone fears retaliation after filing for divorce or a change in child custody.

If a full order of protection has been issued against you, you cannot physically go near the protected person or their home, workplace, or any other specified location. You will also be ordered to have no contact via phone, text, email, or any other means.

A limited order of protection allows you to remain in contact and even go home, assuming you live with the protected person, but you must refrain from any type of harassing or violent behavior.

Charges for Violating a New York Order of Protection

If you violate an order of protection in a minor way, you may be charged with criminal contempt in the second degree, a class A misdemeanor, under New York Penal Law (NYPL 215.50). You can be charged with violating a TOP even if the protected person initiates or encourages contact.

You can be charged with criminal contempt in the first degree, a class E felony under New York penal law (NYPL 215.51), if you commit any of these actions (which generally meet the criminal definition of harassment) to annoy or alarm the protected person:

  • Make repeated phone calls for no legitimate purpose.
  • Strike, shove, kick, or make other physical contact, or attempt or threaten to do so. (If such actions cause actual physical injury to the victim, you could be charged with assault.)
  • Intentionally or recklessly damage more than $250 worth of the protected person's property.

Or, if you commit any of these actions to place the protected person in fear of physical injury or death:

  • Display a dangerous weapon, make threats, or behave in a physically menacing manner.
  • Stalk, follow, or engage in a similar course of conduct.
  • Communicate threats via telephone, mail, or any electronic means.

Penalties for First Degree Criminal Contempt

Even a first-time offender with a clean criminal record can be sentenced to probation for one to four years, which can include up to 400 hours of community service. A repeat violation can result in a charge of aggravated criminal contempt, a class D felony, punishable by a prison sentence of up to 7 years.

NYC Defense Lawyers Protect Your Rights

If you have been accused of violating an order of protection, you need an attorney who is experienced in investigating and defending these types of cases. Having handled many domestic violence cases, Watford Jackson, PLLC knows how to recognize falsehoods and challenge weaknesses in the prosecutor's case. If your case is assigned to a court in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, Nassau County, Rockland County, Suffolk County, or Westchester County, contact our Manhattan office at 855-WAT-JACK or 855-928-5225.

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