Violating a Protective Order: Can the Victim Face Prosecution?

In the course of domestic litigation, scenarios may arise where one party seeks a protective order or no-contact order against the other due to instances of violence or threats. In such situations, the party seeking protection petitions for a legal mandate to prevent the other party from contacting and/or harassing them.

These protective and no-contact orders typically have a designated duration. For instance, most protective orders are effective for a period of two (2) years. However, a crucial question emerges: Can a party face criminal charges for assisting the other party in violating such an order? As it pertains to the victim—the individual seeking protection—the answer is no.

This issue was recently deliberated upon by the Court of Appeals in the case of Patterson v. State of Indiana. Ms. Patterson had obtained a no-contact order against her fiancé following incidents of domestic violence. Despite this, both individuals were discovered by law enforcement at the fiancé's residence, resulting in arrests for violating the order—both for the fiancé and Ms. Patterson herself.

Subsequently, Ms. Patterson was once again found at her fiancé's residence while the no-contact order was still in effect. She faced renewed charges for aiding in the violation of the order. Ms. Patterson sought to have the charges dismissed, and upon denial, she appealed.

In addressing this matter, the Court turned to Ohio law for guidance, as Indiana lacked prior precedent on the issue. The Court ultimately ruled that while protected individuals may choose to reconcile with the perpetrator, it is the responsibility of the restrained party to uphold the terms of the no-contact or protective order. Consequently, victims should not be subject to criminal charges for aiding in a violation.

The relevant Indiana statute specifies that the restrained party is prohibited from entering or remaining at the petitioner's residence, even if invited to do so by the petitioner or any other individual. Thus, the onus falls on the individual subject to the protective or no-contact order to ensure compliance. Moreover, prosecuting victims for assisting in violations may deter them from reporting such incidents out of fear of legal repercussions.

Protective and no-contact orders play a vital role in safeguarding victims from violence. It is imperative for all parties involved to adhere strictly to the stipulations outlined in these orders. However, due to legal provisions and the overarching public policy of protecting victims, individuals are unlikely to face charges for aiding in the violation of such orders.

We trust that this blog post has provided valuable insights into the realm of protective and no-contact orders. Always prioritize strict adherence to the terms of the order to maximize your protection. Ciyou & Associates, P.C. serves clients across the state of Indiana in protective order and no-contact orders. 


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