Violating Restraining Orders is a Crime
In Virginia, violating an Order of Protection, commonly referred to as restraining orders, means that you may face criminal charges (even though the PO is a civil order). Violations are a class 1 misdemeanor, meaning that they are the most serious kind of misdemeanor. However, if you violate a restraining order in specific ways you may end up charged with a felony.
If you have been charged with committing an assault and battery on a party protected by the PO, and the assault resulted in bodily injury, Virginia Code Section 18.2-60.4 allows you to be charged with a Class 6 Felony, punishable by up to 5 years in jail. If you violate a PO while armed with a gun or a knife then you can also be charged with a Class 6 Felony, This is far more serious than a technical violation of the Order.
Stalking also carries the risk of a felony violation. You can be charged with a felony if you furtively enter the home of a protected party while that person is home, or by entering and waiting for them to arrive home.
Have I Violated my VA Restraining Order?
Violations of an Order of Protection occur when a person fails to comply with any provision listed in the Protective Order paperwork the respondent was served with.
- The most common violation happens when the Respondent tries to reach out to the Petitioner.
- The second most common violation occurs when the Petitioner - the protected person - reaches out to the Respondent and the Respondent answers the phone, or responds to a text or email. If you are the Respondent on a PO, read your Order carefully! It is your job not to have contact with the protected person, no matter how hard they try.
Reading a VA Restraining Order
The standard Order of Protection is difficult to read. There are sometimes provisions that do not apply, and there are occasionally exceptions to the boilerplate language included. It is important to review the Order with an attorney to understand each provision. Otherwise, you run the risk of acquiring criminal charges on top of the Order of Protection.