If you have been charged with a domestic-violence crime, the judge may have entered a “No-Contact Order” while the case was pending. What exactly does this mean? How does it work? This article helps explain the meaning and parameters of a No-Contact Order.
When you are arraigned for a domestic-violence crime, the judge will often impose a No-Contact Order for the benefit of the alleged victim while the case is pending; i.e., before you are convicted of anything. In fact, the judge may impose this order as a condition of release. This may seem supremely unfair – you haven’t been convicted of anything! But do not violate the judge’s ruling. As you will see, doing so may only make things more difficult for you down the road.
If you do violate the No-Contact Order, the court may have you taken into custody. It could also result in the prosecution adding new criminal charges against you. In their eyes, you’ve demonstrated a propensity to disregard court orders. Prosecutors have been known to treat violations of a No-Contact Order just as seriously, and indeed more seriously, than the underlying charge itself.
The attorneys at George Law have considerable experience with No-Contact orders, if you need help interpreting this order, call our offices for a free consultation.
No-Contact Order Michigan Laws
Read the No-Contact Order carefully and pay close attention to what the judge has actually ordered. In many No-Contact Orders, judges in Michigan will prohibit you from going anywhere near the alleged victim’s (i) home, (ii) school, (iii) place of employment, and (iv) etc. If you had been living together, you would be required to leave the residence and move to a new residence while the case is pending. The judge would forbid you from contacting or communicating by phone, email, text, etc., with the alleged victim. You would also be prohibited from directing others to contact the alleged victim on your behalf. And you still haven’t been convicted of anything!
What do you do if you are forced to vacate your house, but you have property there? Ask the judge to allow somebody you know to retrieve your personal belongings. Having a skilled attorney, such as those at George Law, can often achieve this for you.
If you have children together, it complicates matters somewhat. A No-Contact Order can affect your relationship with your children and your family situation. Talk to a lawyer at George Law about your options. If you and the alleged victim have shared children, the judge may allow you to visit the children and establish a pick-up and drop-off routine. Also, you can work to arrange agreed childcare.
No-Contact Orders Explained
You have probably heard of no-contact orders in connection with stalking or some other domestic violence criminal case. A no contact order (sometimes referred to as a personal-protection order) is issued by a judge to prohibit you from contacting another person. Contacting can mean phone calls, text messages, emails, and coming within a certain distance to the person requesting the order. Not only that, but if an order has been issued against you, you cannot get a friend to contact the person you have been prohibited from contacting.
No-contact orders are most used when domestic violence charges are pending. So, suppose you have been accused of physically assaulting your partner and have been charged with a crime. In that case, the judge may issue a no-contact order preventing you from seeing or otherwise coming into contact with the alleged victim. These orders can be temporary or permanent. While most judges will explain to you what a no-contact order means, it is recommended that you look over the order carefully to understand what it entails and consult with an attorney for additional perspective.
Violating a no-contact order can have profound consequences. If your criminal case is still ongoing and you are out on bond (bail), then violating the order can result in your bond being revoked and a warrant issued for your arrest. You may be held in jail until you see the judge or until the start of your trial. In addition to potentially being convicted of the charges you are out on bail for, you could also get convicted for violating a no-contact order.
Lifting No-Contact Orders In Michigan
Whether it’s a condition of your release involving a domestic violence case, or it has been ordered in connection with some other criminal charge, a no-contact order is something that you should take seriously. Disobeying one can result in you being arrested, jailed, and subjected to additional criminal charges. You may not know that there may be consequences for violating one, even if the person who requested the no-contact order no longer wants it to be enforced. It is essential that you understand how no-contact orders work and go through the process of having them lifted the right way. Here’s what you need to know about no-contact orders and how you can get one removed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Do I Need A Lawyer To Get My No-Contact Order Lifted?
Depending on what the order itself says, you may need to apply to get it lifted. You must understand that no-contact orders are legal documents that can be enforced by the police and result in criminal charges if you violate them. Similarly, asking the court to lift your no-contact order is also a legal process. While it is possible to get it lifted without a lawyer, many people find comfort in knowing that a trained professional is handling the matter for them. An experienced lawyer will know exactly what you must do to get the order lifted and will make the best arguments to put you in a position to get your request granted. Without a lawyer, your request might be denied, preventing you from getting the order lifted in the future.
Q. Can a No-Contact Order be dropped?
Either party may file a motion with the court to modify a No-Contact Order. The judge takes into account (i) how long your particular case has been pending, (ii) whether you have complied with the No-Contact Order, (iii) if you have a violation of a No-Contact Order pending in the court, (iv) if you have complied with supervised release, and (v) if the alleged victim will consent to the judge dismissing the No-Contact Order. If you are seeking to vacate a domestic-violence conviction or remove it from your record, the court will examine closely whether you have ever violated a No-Contact Order.
Q. Can I lift a no-contact order by request?
Generally speaking, a no-contact order can only be lifted upon motion by the party which it protects. With that said, the best way to avoid having a civil protection order issued against you is to immediately challenge it once it’s issued.
Q. How Do I Get A No-Contact Order Lifted?
The process of getting an order lifted will involve filing a motion with the court. You will need to file this at the appropriate court that has jurisdiction over your case. After filing the motion, you will be given a court date where a judge will decide on your request. Many factors go into the court’s decision. While there is no guarantee that your order will be lifted, hiring an experienced lawyer who can draft your motion and attend the court hearing on your behalf can increase the chances of a good result.
Q. How does the court know if a no-contact order is violated?
There are many ways the court may be aware of a violation to a no-contact order. For instance, if you’re caught by a law enforcement official, they may check within their computer system and notice the order in place. Another way no-contact order violations are detected is if both parties decide to travel via plane. The customs and border patrol would be able to see this order in their system. Other ways that a court may prove that a violation occurred is via security camera, legal documentation proving the violation, or if someone reports the individual.
Q. I Have A No-Contact Order Involving The Other Parent Of My Kids. Will I Be Able To See My Children?
Without looking into the specifics of your case, it will be hard to determine whether your no-contact order will prevent you from seeing your children. If the other parent has sole custody, you may have a challenging time making arrangements with them. In cases like these, you should rely on your lawyer to set up a system where you can get access to your children without encountering the other parent.
No-Contact Order Example
An example of a Michigan No-Contact Order (a.k.a. Personal Protection Order), can be found on the official Michigan Courts website under Court Form CC375. The official name of this document is Petition For Personal Protection Order (Domestic Relationship). You can see a PDF example of what this form looks like below.
There are other No-Contact Orders specific to non-domestic relationships as well as No-Contact Orders involving juveniles or minors.
Why Get A No-Contact Order Lifted?
There are many possible reasons why you may want a no-contact order lifted. Life is full of surprises, and if you have a no-contact order concerning a former partner or your children, then at some point, you all may want to change that. For example, a change in your custody arrangement may cause a no-contact order to be unnecessary or inapplicable.
Many no-contact orders deal with former romantic partners. As you may know, it is not uncommon for exes to get back together at some point. If this sounds like you, and there is still a no-contact order in place, you will want to apply to get it lifted. You must remember that if your partner no longer wants the order enforced and you have not officially gotten it lifted, then you may still end up facing penalties for violating it.
No-contact orders stemming from criminal charges can become unfair or unnecessary as your case unfolds. Critically, you are innocent of all charges until you are found guilty. You may have been falsely accused, or there may not have been enough evidence to convict you at trial. As a result, you may want to get the order lifted if you were found not guilty or had the charges dropped or dismissed.
A no-contact order may also pop up on a background search. If this happens, you may miss job opportunities, be prohibited from being around kids, and be prohibited from owning a firearm. Going through the process of getting the order lifted is recommended for you to take advantage of all the rights and privileges to which you are entitled.
Still, it is important to understand that getting a no-contact order removed is a legal process that may involve filing a motion with the court. A motion is where you ask the court to do something. Asking the court to lift a no-contact order will usually involve a court hearing in front of a judge. Even if all parties agree that the order should be lifted, it will still be up to the judge to grant your request.
How To Get A No-Contact Order Lifted
Getting a no-contact order lifted is usually something that you will want to have a lawyer for. Because it involves drafting motions and attending a court hearing, most nonlawyers may have difficulty dealing with the rules and laws surrounding these orders. No matter what you decide, it is always recommended to first consult with an experienced lawyer to learn your options on getting the order lifted.
The first step in getting the order lifted is looking at the no-contact order itself since it contains terms and conditions. If the order was attached to the conditions of your bail or bond, then you should have been provided with a document that tells you who you cannot contact and the places that you are not allowed to go. Not all no- contact orders are permanent, and some may expire after a set amount of time or after a certain event takes place. If your no-contact order is the result of pending criminal charges and the case is later dropped, then the judge may have already lifted the order when your charges were dismissed.
Most no-contact orders are indefinite and will need to be lifted by a judge. To do this, you will need to file a motion with the court that issued it. You may also need to ask the specific judge who entered the order to remove it. Your motion should describe the reasons why you believe the order should be lifted. If you have taken steps to eliminate the need for a no-contact order, you should reference this in your motion. Steps may include attending anger management classes or individual therapy. Critically, if the person you were ordered to have no contact with also agrees that the order should be lifted, that will certainly help your case.
At your court hearing, you may need to convince the judge to lift the order. To do this, you need to state why the order is unfair, unnecessary, or not supported by facts and evidence. The person that you have been ordered to stay away from might attend this hearing. The court will consider how that person feels. If the person is against removing the order, then this is typically not a good sign. If they agree that the order should be lifted, then this will likely help your chances. The court wants to ensure that the person you have been ordered to have no contact with has not been unfairly pressured to agree with your request, so the court might question them about how they reached their decision.
If the judge decides to grant your request to lift the order, they will typically provide you with another court document stating that the order has been lifted. You must receive and hold on to this document as proof that the no-contact order has been removed. You may find yourself in a situation in the future where you need to prove to law enforcement that your order has been lifted. Without this document, you may have a challenging time doing so and could wind up in jail until you sort out the miscommunication.
Moreover, having a no-contact order lifted does not mean that the person that had the order against you cannot apply for another one in the future. Couples with a history of physical altercations have been known to seek out and receive multiple no contact orders.
Factors The Court May Consider When Deciding To Lift Your No-Contact Order
The court may consider several factors in deciding to lift your no-contact order, including:
Your Criminal History
If you have a history of domestic violence, you will likely have a tough time getting your order lifted. Prior charges for stalking or harassment can almost guarantee your order will stand. Minor offenses (e.g. driving 5 miles per hour over the speed limit) are much less likely to factor into the court’s decision.
If you are out on bail, then there may have been certain conditions associated with your release. Because many domestic issues involve the use of drugs or alcohol, the court often will include that condition in your bond or your no-contact order. Showing the court that you are sober and free of any substance abuse issues can only help your chances of having the order lifted.
Your Mental Health
If you are in the midst of a mental health crisis, the court will consider this when deciding your motion. If you are receiving treatment or have had an evaluation that shows you are of sound mind, this can be seen as a good sign by the court. Taking your mental health seriously will show the court that you are addressing the issues that may have placed you into this situation in the first place.
The Status Of Your Case
Usually, if there is a no-contact order in place, then criminal charges were pending at one point. If your case is still pending, then you may find it more difficult to get your order lifted than if your case has been resolved. Certainly, if you were found not guilty, or the case against you was dismissed, this will increase your chances of getting the order lifted.
The Other Party
The person that you have been ordered not to contact will have a chance to let the court know how they feel about your order being lifted. If this person shows up to your court hearing, then what they tell the court will significantly impact whether the order will be lifted. While not always the deciding factor, how the other party feels about the order being lifted can make or break your case. To be sure, if they agree to have the order lifted, chances are the court will do so. Similarly, if they do not want it lifted, then you may find it difficult to convince the court to do otherwise.
Not all no-contact orders are permanent. Many of them expire after a certain period. If you have not violated your order and a significant amount of time has gone by since it was entered, the court may consider this when deciding whether the order should be lifted. Likewise, if your no-contact order has expired, then the court may have no choice but to enter an order that confirms that.
When you are found to have done something that is not allowed under the no- contact order, this is known as a violation. If you have violated your order and now want it to be lifted, the court will consider your past noncompliance when making its decision. You can be sure that past violations will likely hurt your chances of getting the order lifted, while having no violations in the past may cause the court to look favorably on your motion to lift the order.
Attorney For Domestic Violence & No- Contact Orders
If you have been issued a no-contact order, promptly speak with a criminal defense attorney. The Michigan criminal defense lawyers at George Law have meaningfully helped many clients in Michigan with resolving no-contact orders. Our attorneys are ready to evaluate your situation and advise you on how to proceed. We help to ensure that your rights are protected and defend you against potentially serious criminal charges.
No-Contact Orders are complex, and the consequences for violating them can be dire. Talk to a domestic violence lawyer at George Law to discuss your options today. Contact us by email or at (248) 470-4300 for a free consultation.