The state of Arizona places a high value on guaranteeing the individual safety of its citizens, and one of the tools it uses to ensure safety is the protective order. Because this tool is only effective if the subject of the order obeys it, A.R.S. §13-3602 criminalizes the violation of a restraining order or order of protection. If you have been charged with violating such an order, the penalties can be stiff, so having an experienced criminal attorney on your side is important.
Judges and Justices of the Peace may issue protection orders, also known as “restraining orders”, for a variety of reasons. Typically, such orders are issued to reduce the likelihood of harassment, domestic violence, or assault occurring. Due to the sensitive nature of such situations, a Judge can issue the order based on the request of just one party, so the defendant may not even be aware such an order is being sought. Judges have wide latitude in determining the activities the order restricts, such as moving within a certain distance of the workplace, home, or school of the filing party. Once issued, the order lasts for a full year, so such orders are not to be taken lightly.
Because of the serious nature of this judicial remedy, the courts do allow challenges to restraining orders. An order of protection can be challenged via written hearing, within 10 days of a request, or within 5 days if the order bars the defendant from visiting his own home. The restraining order hearing involves input from both parties, and the judge may alter or strike down the order, in addition to issuing a reciprocal order, which prevents the original filing party from harassing the defendant. If the judge does uphold the order, violating the terms of the order, including any modifications, will result in a charge of Violating the Order of Protection / Injunction Against Harassment under A.R.S. §13-3602. This is a class one (1) misdemeanor.
Punishment for Violating an Order of Protection
While even a small action can result in a protection order violation, the consequences are not small. A violation will prompt immediate arrest and indefinite detainment in custody until the judge determines the conditions for release. Conviction of this offense can result in a jail term of up to six (6) months, along with a $2,500 fine plus an 84% surcharge.
Defenses to Violating an Order of Protection
Unlike some other criminal violations, there are not many effective defenses available with respect to protection order violations. Even if the defendant is invited to violate the order by meeting the filing party in a restricted area, that still counts as a violation. So even if a couple gets back together and resolves their issues, the restrained party can still be arrested for a violation of the order if the court has not lifted the order.
Often, misunderstandings are the driving force behind charges of violating protective orders. Because of this, experienced and skilled negotiators such as the former prosecutors at DM Cantor are particularly helpful. We can reason with the local or state prosecutors and work to resolve the situation without charges.
Our office may also be able to assert general defenses on your behalf, such as Miranda rights violations and denial of the right to counsel. For the former defense, we may be able to suppress self-incriminating statements you made if the police forced or tricked you into making them. The latter defense typically arises where the police ignore your requests to speak to a lawyer and continue questioning you. Our firm may also expose forensic flaws and sloppy police work, such as misleading statements, or inaccurate police reports.
All of the lawyers at the Law Offices of David Michael Cantor are listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers®, and David Michael Cantor is a Certified Criminal Law Specialist by the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization. Our firm knows the protective order system well, and we can help you seek a livable resolution. For a free consultation, call (602) 737-2812 or click here to access our secure, confidential contact form.