If you have been charged with domestic violence in Virginia, you may lose contact with your children. The court could issue a no-contact order, also known as a protective order or restraining order, against you that prohibits you from contacting your children.
The alleged victim or their family members can petition the court for a no-contact order. The court will consider their wishes. To better understand how a no-contact order affects you and your children, it is vital to speak with an experienced Virginia criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
What No Contact Means
The extent to which the no-contact order is enforced varies from case to case. Some protective orders may allow limited contact or supervised visits with children. Other no-contact orders prohibit all direct and indirect contact with your children. This means you cannot speak with them in person or by text, phone, or email. You can't even ask someone to "pass along a message" for you in these cases.
Types of Virginia "No Contact" Orders
There are three main types of protective orders in Virginia domestic violence cases. For all three, the order does not go into effect until it has been served to the accused.
Emergency Protective Order
An emergency protective order can be issued on weekends and after business hours, even when the courthouse is not open. The alleged abuser does not need to be present, but they do need to be served for the order to take effect. An emergency protective order lasts for three days. If the expiration date is when the court isn't in session, the order can be extended to the end of the next business day. If the alleged victim is hospitalized, the no-contact order can extend three more days.
Preliminary Protective Order
Alleged victims can file for a preliminary protective order (PPO) in writing or in person. If the judge grants the PPO, it will be in effect for 15 days. A court hearing will be held at that time to determine if a final protective order should be issued. If the accused is not present for the court hearing, the court may extend the PPO for up to six months, and the PPO must then be served to the accused as soon as possible.
While a preliminary protective order is in place, you may face several restrictions, including:
- No contact with the alleged victims and their family or household members
- No criminal acts that may result in injury to the person or property
- No living, staying, or visiting the family home
- No turning off utility services to the home
- No disabling of cellphone numbers and related services
- No tracking of alleged victims through phone tracking apps and other means
Final Protective Order
After another hearing, the court may issue a protective order lasting up to two years. A final protective order can be enacted even if the preliminary protective order request was denied. This court date is typically within 15 days of the initial hearing. At this new hearing, both the accused and the alleged victim have a chance to tell their stories. A skilled criminal defense lawyer can help you prepare for this hearing. They can help you argue for the privilege of contacting your children.At any point, the alleged victim may ask the court to modify or lift the restraining order, but the court does not have to agree to any changes.
Consequences for Violating a No Contact Order
It is vital to take your domestic violence charge seriously. This includes following a no-contact order if one has been issued. If you violate a protective order, your bond is revoked, and you will be found in contempt of court.Violating a no-contact order also signals to the court that you do not respect the court or its orders. The court may not look favorably on your case at the time of your family abuse trial, and you may face stiffer penalties. Violating no-contact orders can also impact child custody in the case of separation and divorce.