Criminal Court - Orders of Protection

The Order of Protection is the Judge's Order, a Court Order; it is not an Order between the two people involved in the case. This means that only the Judge can change the Order of Protection. The person who requested the Order cannot change the Order or make it meaningless by allowing the Defendant to have contact.

If the person who is protected by the Order wants it changed or dropped, then that request must be made to the Judge or the Assistant District Attorney.

As long as the Order of Protection is in effect, any violation of it by the Defendant can result in arrest for Criminal Contempt.

There are two kinds of Orders of Protection in New York: they are called "Stay Away" or "Refrain From" Orders of Protection. Please read your Order of Protection carefully.

If it says that you must Stay Away from a particular person, that means that you cannot have contact of any kind with that person, directly or indirectly:

  • No physical contact of any kind.
  • Stay away from the home, school, business or place of employment of the person named in the Order.
  • No phone calls.
  • No letters, emails or faxes.
  • No messages through other people.
  • No presents.
  • No contacting the person in any way at all, even if you are invited to talk or meet by that person.

If it is a Refrain From Order of Protection, you can live together and have contact, but you are prohibited from harassing, intimidating, threatening or otherwise interfering with the person protected by the Order.

Important Things To Know

  • A Violation of an Order of Protection is the Crime of Criminal Contempt
  • It is a mandatory arrest for the Police if the officer arrives and a defendant is present in violation of a Stay Away Order of Protection. The Police will enforce the Order even if it is claimed that the other person invited the Defendant.
  • Criminal Contempt charge can be filed by the Police for any violation of an Order of Protection, including a phone call, even if the defendant did not say anything threatening.
  • A misdemeanor conviction in a domestic violence case can affect your right to have a gun. It can also affect some kinds of jobs, as well as public housing and whether you can remain in the United States if you are not a U.S. citizen.
  • If the person that requested the Order of Protection wants to change or drop it, she or he should speak to the Assistant DA, if it is a misdemeanor or felony case. In other cases, the person can come to City Court and ask the Judge. It is possible that the Assistant DA or Judge will not do as the person asks, if they think the person would be in danger if the Order of Protection were dropped.

How Defendants Can Avoid Problems

  • Do not go to places where you know the other person goes.
  • Leave a building, restaurant, store or other place if you realize that the other person is there.
  • Hang up the phone immediately if the person calls you. Record the call on your answering machine, if possible. Tell your lawyer about the call.
  • Do not send letters, emails or faxes to the other person and do not respond if that person sends one to you. Give your lawyer any message you receive from the other person.
  • Do not get into arguments or confrontations with the person's family or friends. Walk away. Try to avoid them completely.
  • Do not get together with the other person, even to apologize or to try to work things out unless the Judge has dropped the Order of Protection.