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Understanding Restraining Orders in NY

A restraining order, officially referred to as an order of protection, can be granted to a petitioner for a number of reasons. For example, a court may grant a restraining order against an offender for stalking, assault, reckless endangerment, domestic violence, disorderly conduct, or harassment. This step can be taken for abuse occurring directly against the petitioner or against a shared child (or children) of the petitioner and the person of the order.

Additionally, a restraining order can entail a number of different guidelines, including the subject of the order being required to do one or more of the following:

  • Move out of a residence shared with the petitioner
  • Avoid contact with the petitioner
  • Surrender any firearms or weapons
  • Abstain from making contact with the petitioner through telephone and online media.

These guidelines will be clearly explained to all parties involved in the case, so that there is no chance of a misunderstanding.

The Difference between Family Court and Criminal Court

An individual living in New York can file a restraining order through either Family Court or Criminal Court. If you file an order of protection at Family Court, then you have to be or have been in an intimate relationship with the subject of the order (for example: married, divorced, dating, living together) or a relative, through blood or marriage. Family Court proceedings remain private, so the general public is not made aware of the proceedings.

However, if you are not related to the person against whom you want to file a restraining order, you will have to work through Criminal Court. To do this, the subject of the order must be arrested and criminal charges have to be pressed before the restraining order can be filed.

What if the Order Is Violated?

This also depends on which court is handling a case. If the complaint is filed through Family Court, then the penalties tend not to be as severe, although violations of the order could still result in up to 6 months in jail for the offender. If the case has been handled by Criminal Court, however, the violation of the restraining order could be considered a felony, which could lead to 2 to 4 years of jail time. Of course, the specific penalty also depends on the severity of the violation. In fact, violations that are charged in Family Court, if severe enough, can cause the violator’s case to be transferred to Criminal Court, allowing harsher penalties to be dealt out. It is also possible that the petitioner will violate the order, placing the subject of the order in a difficult situation. Often these types of disputes happen in private and it becomes one person’s word against another’s, leading to complicated situations. Because of this, it is important to understand the specifics and subtleties of order of protection laws.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are involved in an order of protection case in New York and need legal advice from a criminal defense attorney, call me, Jason Steinberger, at 718-585-2833. You can call anytime 24/7, and receive a free consultation. I look forward to helping you with your case.

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