One consequence of your domestic violence arrest is that you may need to move out of your home or apartment. Given the nature of a domestic violence crime, the victim is usually the spouse, intimate partner, family member, roommate, or household member of the person alleged to have committed the crime. This creates a difficult situation where two individuals, who normally would have frequent contact and live together, now are in conflict. The law provides a remedy to this situation, but the remedy is not perfect, and can often lead to more problems.

Criminal Protective Orders

When you are arrested for a domestic violence crime, the judge will enter a criminal protective order in your case. The purpose of this formal court order is to protect the victim of an alleged crime from further contact by the defendant. Once a criminal protective order is entered by the judge, it stays in effect until the end of your case, or until it is formally modified by the judge.

Criminal protective orders can restrict or entirely prohibit your contact with the protected party depending upon the restrictions ordered by the judge. Typical protective orders include:

  • “Full no contact” orders (the most restrictive);
  • “Residential stay-away” orders (middle level restriction); and
  • “No threatening or harassing” orders (the least restrictive).

If either a full “no contact” protective order or a “residential stay-away” protective order is imposed by the judge, you will not be able to live with the victim(s), and you cannot come within a set distance of their location. The protective order will contain the precise distance you must stay away from the protected party.

Needless to say, this can present emotional, financial, and practical challenges to most individuals. You will need to find a new home while the protective order is in effect. You may still be financially responsible for the old home or apartment while you maintain your new household. And you must obey all of the other conditions of the protective order.

Returning Home

Most judges will set a condition within the protective order that you are permitted to return one time to your former home with a police escort to retrieve your possessions. This can be a complicated process:

  1. You will have to contact the police;
  2. The police will then contact the victim(s) and arrange for a specific time;
  3. A police officer will supervise your return to the home to retrieve your possessions;
  4. You cannot have any contact with the victim, and you must obey the police officer.

You may not get all of your belongings depending upon the circumstances. You might only get enough of your things to temporarily maintain yourself. This procedure is not meant to be the same as when you move-out of a home. It is simply a temporary fix.

While at the house or apartment, if you don’t obey the police officer’s commands, or if you try to talk to the protected party, then your police escort will arrest you. At this point, you will be charged with an additional crime of Violation of a Protective Order. This crime is a Class D felony and exposes you up to five years in jail in addition to your previous criminal charges.

No matter what, do not go back to the house or apartment on your own. If you try to go back to your home on your own, without using the police, you will have violated the terms of the protective order. This is the case even if you are paying the mortgage, or if you are the named tenant for the apartment. You simply cannot do this. If you do go back on your own, you will be arrested and charged with the additional crime of Violation of a Protective Order, and you could be subject to several other criminal charges depending upon the complaints of the protected party.

Getting Help

Having to leave your home can prove to be a large financial and emotional strain on you and other family members. To see if you can get a criminal protective order lifted, or to learn more about your rights, contact our office.