When someone violates the terms of a protective order that has been placed against them, the consequences can be very serious. Anyone who has reason to believe that they may have violated an order against them, even unintentionally, should seek the assistance of an experienced attorney as soon as possible. By acting quickly, you may be able to avoid the legal penalties that violating such an order would bring. We have compiled the following information to provide a better understanding of the types, issuance, and violation of protective orders in Nevada, as well as the legal ramifications and defenses regarding a violation that has taken place.
Understanding the Issuance of Protective Orders in Nevada
A protective order, which you may also know as a ‘restraining order’, is an order that can be issued by the court to prohibit the interactions that you have with another individual. These orders are meant as a measure of protection for the individual who has alleged that they feel they are in danger and may potentially be at risk of being harmed or harassed by you and are addressed more thoroughly in the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS 33.010 – NRS 33.440).
Protective orders are issued for one or more of the following reasons:
● Alleged Risk of Stalking and Harassment
● Alleged Risk of Domestic Violence
● Alleged Risk of Sexual Assault
● Alleged Risk of Harassment at Workplace
● Alleged Risk of Child Abuse
There are two basic types of protective orders:
● Protective Order Against Harassment and Stalking
Orders may also be issued in one of the two following forms:
● Temporary Order of Protection – This type of protective order can only last for 30 days past the day it is served unless the judge granting the order specifies otherwise. If the original protection order is not served to you within 30 days after it is issued, then the party who is applying for the order must submit a new application to be approved for a new order.
● Extended Order of Protection – With an extended order of protection, the time period covered cannot last beyond one year from the date that the extension has been signed by the judge who issues it. Additionally, the extension of a temporary protective order must be signed by a judge prior to the expiration of the temporary order, meaning within the 30 days that a temporary order lasts.
It’s important to note the fact that most protective orders are unique to the specific set of circumstances that has led to their being granted. This can mean that in some cases, what may be considered a violation of the protective order against one person might not be a violation of the protective order against another. In many cases, this disparity in the terms of individual protective orders can be a complicating factor in the determination of whether or not an order has actually been violated. For this reason, it’s imperative that you understand the specific elements of the protective order that has been placed against you to better avoid an unintentional violation.
Penalties for the Violation of a Protective Order
When a protective order is violated, the penalties that will apply if the violation is found to be valid and you are convicted will vary depending on the type of protective order you have against you.
If the order against you is meant to protect the other party against the risk of either domestic violence or harassment at your workplace, regardless of whether it is temporary or extended in nature, the penalties are as follows:
● Up to 6 months in jail
● Up to $1,000 in possible fines
If the order against you is meant to protect the other party against the risk of stalking, harassment, sexual assault or child abuse and is temporary in nature, the crime is a gross misdemeanor, with penalties:
● Up to 364 days in jail
● Up to $2,000 in possible fines
If the order is an extended protection order against the risk of stalking, harassment, sexual assault or child abuse, the crime is a category C felony, with penalties as follows:
● From 1 to 5 years in state prison
● Up to $10,000 in possible fines
If you are in possession of a firearm in spite of a restriction against this in any protective order, the crime is a category B felony, with penalties as follows:
● From 1 to 6 years in state prison
● Up to $5,000 in possible fines
Common Defenses for the Violation of a Protective Order
● Unintentional Violation
A truly unintentional violation of one of the terms of a protective order is not a crime. In circumstances of this nature, when the alleged violation was purely the result of an accident, your attorney should be able to prove that there was no intention in whatever actions of yours are in question of being in violation. This defense also applies in cases where a supposed violation was the result of your misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the specific terms of the protective order against you.
● Lack of Sufficient Evidence
The burden of proof in cases of an alleged violation of a protective order is on the prosecution. This means that if they cannot provide enough reliable evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the violation of the order against you was done with deliberate intention, you have not actually committed a crime.
● Improperly Served Orders
There is a proper procedure that must be followed when a protective order is being served. The procedure itself may vary to some degree depending on the terms of each individual order, but regardless, any protective order granted against you must be served to you in the manner that applies to it. If you are served improperly, you may not be liable for any future alleged violation of that order.
Alleged offenses of this nature can be nuanced and will require the assistance of an attorney who is very knowledgeable in this area of Nevada law. If you or someone you care about may have violated the terms of a protective order and would like to speak to an attorney about what your possible options might be, we invite you to contact our offices for a free case evaluation today. We want to hear your side of the story.