What to Do About False Restraining Orders
Can you fight a protective order? Yes. At Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys, we understand how important protective orders are for victims of domestic violence and other crimes. We know they are an important legal resource for many men and women. However, we have also seen protective orders abused. Men and women seek protective orders in order to tarnish the other person’s reputation, to seek revenge, and to obtain leverage during a domestic relations matter. When you are facing false allegations in a protective order, you can and should fight back because once you are labeled as an abuser, it is a label that is difficult to overcome in the eyes of your friends, family, and employers.
At our firm, we understand fighting a false protective order is stressful. We know it can feel impossible to do on your own. That is why we are here to help. We want to protect your reputation and stop these accusations from harming you any further. We will work with you to put up an aggressive defense in court and to clear your name of wrongdoing.
To discuss how a violent crimes attorney can help, contact Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys today to schedule a free, confidential consultation. You can call us at (980) 237-4579, or submit your information through our online form.
Protective Orders in North Carolina
North Carolina technically does not have something called a “restraining order.” That is simply the more common term for protective and no-contact orders. There are three types of these orders:
- North Carolina Domestic Violence Protective Orders (DVPO) / 50B Orders – These are civil orders a person can seek against you when you are accused of harming or attempting to harm them, and you two have a personal relationship, which is defined by N.C.G.S § 50B. This may include spouses or a boyfriend and girlfriend.
- Civil No-Contact Orders / 50C Orders – A person can seek this type of protective order if they accuse you of non-consensual sexual conduct or stalking, and you two do not have a familial or intimate relationship. This may be a situation that include neighbors fighting.
- Civil No-Contact Orders for Victims of Registered Sex Offenders / 50D Orders – If you have been convicted of a registerable sex offense, your victim can seek a civil no-contact order against you.
For a 50D order, you have to already have been found guilty of the offense, which entitles the other person to request a protective order against you. However, with 50B and 50C orders, you may not have been convicted or even charged with a crime. Petitions for these orders are often allegations that have not been found true in court. Because of this, a judge will carefully consider whether to grant a long-term protective or no-contact order against you. The order would last for 12 months and can be renewed before it expires by the petitioner. When you learn that someone is seeking a restraining order against you, you should contact an experienced defense attorney to discuss how to fight a restraining order.
Someone Filed a Protective Order Against Me, What Are My Rights?
If someone files legal paperwork asking for a protective order against you, you will receive a copy of that paperwork and a summons to court. That is because you have the right to service of process. Your first thoughts upon receiving this paperwork may be fighting a false protective order on your own, but you should consult your attorney before making any moves in your case because the consequences of having a protective order entered against you can have a serious, long-term effect on your life.
When you receive a copy of the paperwork, it may include a copy of a temporary order against you, which is called an “ex-parte order” and is generally a 10-day emergency order issued by the judge, before the formal hearing is set on the one year protective order. Petitioners asking for protective orders can often obtain emergency orders without you being present. If you receive notice of a temporary DVPO or no-contact order, you must follow its instructions. Violating the order will result in criminal charges and will paint you in a bad light as you head into court proceedings to fight the one-year protective order.
There are no grounds to fight the emergency, 10-day ex-parte protective order, which may be issued by the judge. However, you have every right to fight the petition for a long-term DVPO or no-contact order, which may last one year and can be renewed. By hiring a lawyer with experience in fighting false restraining order accusations, you have a greater chance of showing the petitioner does not have grounds to obtain the protective order, which would result in their application for the protective order to be denied by the judge.
Whether or not you hire an attorney, you have the right to appear in court at a restraining order hearing. The date, time, and location of that hearing will be in the paperwork you were served.
How to Get an Order of Protection Dismissed
When you are facing a DVPO or no-contact order, you need to consider how you can get the other party’s petition denied by the presiding judge. The other party only needs to prove you committed violence, harassed them, threatened them, or other harmful conduct toward them by a preponderance of the evidence. This is a lower burden of proof than is necessary in criminal cases, which requires prosecutors to prove you committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. To have a protective order granted, the other party only needs to prove it is more likely than not that you harmed them or pose a continued threat to their safety, health, and well-being, and that the issuance of a protective order would prevent the behavior in the future.
However, despite the lower burden of proof, it is possible to overcome these accusations. If you need help fighting a false restraining order, the best thing you can do is hire an attorney. A lawyer will thoroughly investigate the allegations against you and gather evidence to support your case. Your lawyer may recommend that you testify to and tell your side of the story. Your lawyer will also cross-examine your accuser to find inaccuracies in their story or to demonstrate they have an ulterior motive.
Contesting a restraining order is difficult, but it is possible to win. You need to go to court prepared to show that the other person’s accusations are not accurate and what, if any, motive they may have to fabricate the allegations in their petition.
What Happens If a Restraining Order is Granted?
If a restraining order against you is granted, then you may face significant consequences in your life. Your ability to travel to certain places, such as your home, school, or work, may be limited. Your communication with the alleged victim will be restricted, and may be eliminated completely. However, the consequences could be even greater if you violate a 50B protective order, which would result in a Class A1 misdemeanor. These penalties can be extremely harsh, especially if you feel you’ve done nothing wrong. Contact a restraining order defense lawyer to help you protect your rights.
Appealing a False Restraining Order
Despite your best efforts, the other party may win their petition for a DVPO or no-contact order against you. In this situation, you may have the right to an appeal. If you did not have a lawyer for the first hearing, or you feel your lawyer was not aggressive enough, contact Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys. We will discuss how to get a restraining order removed and the timeline you have to file for an appeal. Additionally, you may have grounds to appeal a restraining order, but that does not mean you can ignore it. A DVPO or no-contact order is enforceable while you appeal.
For help in understanding the legalities of fighting a false restraining order through an appeal, contact us today for help.
I Won the Restraining Order Hearing, Now What?
If you prove that the accusations against you are false and the other party’s petition for a restraining order is denied, you may wonder what comes next. You may consider suing. Depending on the circumstances, you may have evidence to support a defamation claim. In North Carolina, slander refers to spoken defamation, while libel refers to written defamation. In order to bring a lawsuit based on either cause of action, you must provide evidence that the other person made false statements about you that damaged your reputation. You should speak with an experienced attorney regarding whether your situation could merit a defamation case or not.