A no contact order can be issued for one of many reasons, from minor altercations between couples to serious, criminal charges of stalking and sexual harassment. Other circumstances in which no contact orders may be filed include high-intensity divorces and separations or neighborly disputes. So, what is a no contact order, exactly? Below, we’ll answer all of your questions about what a no contact order is, how it is implemented, and what the consequences of violating one may be.
What Is a No Contact Order?
Many people use the terms “no contact order” and “restraining order” interchangeably, but they are actually a bit different. A no contact order prohibits a person from being in physical or verbal contact with another person, whether that is face-to-face or over the phone/internet. This type of order is filed when an action has already taken place.
For instance, if there is a domestic abuse charge, a no contact order would prohibit the abuser from coming into contact with the victim. The rules of a restraining order also prohibit two people from coming into contact, but there is one main legal difference. With a restraining order, a dispute or crime does not have to take place first — it can simply be used as a preventative and protective action.
Rules of No Contact Order
After a no contact order is filed, the court will specify the details, like how many feet or yards away the individuals must stay from one another. The defendant cannot see the petitioner at work, school, and home and must cease all communication with the victim.
The order will usually specify a certain period of time that the order is in place. At the end of the period, the petitioner may ask the courts to extend the order. The judge can also lift the order if they feel the petitioner is no longer in danger. If broken, the defendant may receive a fine, or jail time with a felony or misdemeanor charge (more on that in a minute).
Civil No Contact Order vs. Domestic Violence No Contact Order
There are two kinds of no contact orders that can be filed, a civil no contact order and a domestic violence no contact order. A civil no contact order is agreed upon when the two individuals in the situation aren’t family members or romantically involved. Typically, the offender is an acquaintance or complete stranger (i.e. a stalker or abuser).
If the victim is in immediate danger, a temporary no contact order can be filed to speed up the process of making the agreement official. However, to implement a permanent no contact order, there must be a court hearing first.
In the case of a domestic violence no contact order, the victim and the defendant must either be:
- Husband and wife
- Domestic partners
- Parents of the same children
- Living together currently or in the past
- Parents of adult children
Many states have specific laws for domestic violence no contact orders. If children are involved, the judge may grant a temporary custody order to a certain parent or relative, as long as the defendant is removed from the home. A hearing can decide if a permanent no contact order must be placed.
How to Get No Contact Order
A no contact order is requested when a petitioner feels that are in danger. Usually, the petitioner has been a victim of physical, verbal, or emotional abuse. Besides victims of abuse, stalking victims are able to petition courts for no contact orders. The stalking must have consisted of unwanted correspondence (letters, emails, phone calls, etc.), repeatedly over a period of time.
To get a no contact order, a person must file a claim with their local court — and often, they will have to go before a judge. When filing a complaint, the petitioner must file in their own jurisdiction or the jurisdiction of the assailant. Most states have no contact order forms that are filled out pretrial or post conviction.
This form will specify the details of the no contact order, whether that is to stay away from the protected person(s)’s home, business, school, or place of employment. It will also specify that the defendant may not contact the protected person, directly or indirectly. In some cases, the no contact order form will require the defendant to give up any firearms they have in their possession until the order is lifted.
The person who is requesting the no contact order may have to petition the court for an emergency hearing. At the hearing, the courts will hear the reasons behind the petitioner’s request, and the court usually grants a temporary no contact order. The temporary order is not in effect until the order is served to the other party. The full hearing usually occurs within 30 days of the emergency hearing, which is when it is decided if the order stays in place and for how long.
If you need a no contact order, the first step is to consult with an attorney. An attorney who practices family law will generally have experience requesting no contact orders.
How to Get No Contact Order Lifted
A no contact order can be dropped if the protected person is no longer in danger. To get a no contacted or lifted, the protected person will need to reach out to the county clerk in the jurisdiction the complaint was filed. The details of terminating a no contact order can vary by jurisdiction. You can also go to your local court’s website to see if they have any online resources to walk you through the process.
Regardless of what your jurisdiction requires to get a no contact order lifted, it is always a good idea to work with an attorney — whether you are the victim or the defendant. Emotions tend to run high in no contact order cases, so an attorney can help keep things civil and prevent further damages.
In most states, you will need to fill out a form to get a no contact order lifted, specifying which parts of the order you want terminated and why. Once you sign the form and turn it in to the county clerk, a judge will review your request, and either approve or deny it based on what they think is best for the victim. Keep in mind, there is usually a filing fee you must pay when turning in the form.
No Contact Order Violation
A violation of a no contact order is serious and against the law. A no contact order violation happens any time the defendant comes in contact, directly or indirectly, with the protected person. Many orders forbid the defendant from physically harming the victim, as well as from carrying a firearm or weapon. If the defendant violates multiple clauses of the order, the consequences will be more severe, ranging from a misdemeanor to a felony. Defendants are often fined for their violation.
Get the Help of an Expert for No Contact Orders
If you or someone you care about is in need of legal help, you can get a free case review from a local attorney. When you find out what your options are, you can begin to create a path forward.