Next Step After Protection Order
Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
When someone — a husband, wife, boyfriend, or girlfriend — is arrested for domestic violence, he or she will only be released from jail after posting bond. This may be in the form of cash bond, or the defendant may be released on personal recognizance, which is to say that he or she is released after agreeing to abide by the terms of the bond. In either case, a domestic violence suspect will nearly always be served with a protection order, also referred to as a no-contact order or a restraining order. The legal system in South Carolina recognizes that romantic partners are often like a pair of magnets, and will tend to snap back together after being pulled apart. The purpose of the domestic violence injunction is to keep you from reuniting with your spouse or partner, with the goal of preventing a repeat of the incident which led to the arrest. A protection order may forbid you to have any type of contact or communication with the other party, may force you out of your home and deprive you of custody of your children, among other things.
Don't Violate a No-Contact Order
The one thing you must not do after being served with a protection order is to violate it in any way. If you are caught violating the order, you can be arrested and sent back to jail, and now you will have to defend yourself against charges of contempt of court, in addition to the original domestic violence charges. This is true even if the other party contacted you and invited you to come over or to meet. Remember: the state of South Carolina is prosecuting you, and it is not up to the alleged victim to decide whether or not to enforce the restraining order. Another thing you should be careful of is what is known as a "pretext call." Law enforcement agencies will sometimes have the victim call the perpetrator to request an apology or an explanation of his or her actions. This call is recorded and later used as evidence in court. At all costs, avoid speaking with or coming near the other party.
Handling a Domestic Violence Protection Order
Fortunately, it may be possible to have the order modified or even lifted by petitioning the judge for relief. If it can be demonstrated that the order is excessively restrictive or is unnecessary, the court may agree to change it according to your request. This may be done, for example, to grant the defendant access to the shared home or to provide rights of child visitation. In cases where the defendant and alleged victim wish to reunite, it may be possible to modify the order so that the couple can meet in public, or the order might be lifted entirely.
As mentioned above, you should absolutely avoid violating the order, even if you are confident that you will be able to have it lifted. At the court in Lexington it is common to see couples who are legally separated by a protective order show up in the same car, sometimes even walking into the courthouse holding hands. The court will often post plainclothes police officers in the parking lot or in the window above the entrance to identify people who are violating their orders. This can lead to an immediate arrest when you thought you were about to have the situation handled. You are in a highly delicate situation, and it is in your best interests to hire an attorney to guide you along the way. Contact us now at the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC.