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No-Contact and Restraining Orders: What's the Difference?

 The difference between a no-contact order and a restraining order is not always clear, but domestic violence victims need to understand the different rules and conditions that govern both emergency relief options. Both may lead to the arrest of the perpetrator but the reasons and the way they will be enforced vary greatly.

Difference Between No-Contact and Restraining Orders

While laws governing no-contact orders and restraining orders differ from one state to another, there are several key differences between the two.

A restraining order, or a protection/protective order, is issued by a family court mainly to shield domestic violence victims against their aggressors. If the victim’s life is in danger a temporary restraining order may be requested. On a later date, a judge will determine if the temporary restraining order needs to be made permanent.

Permanent restraining orders remain in effect for several years or until divorce proceedings are finalized. A restraining order may prevent the abusive partner from coming in contact with his or her family or being around them in places the victim routinely goes to.

A restraining order may bar a perpetrator from communicating with the victim including through texting, on the phone, or through a third party. A domestic abuser may be barred from carrying weapons through a protective order and be forced to pay for the victim’s medical expenses spurred by the alleged abuser’s misconduct.

Temporary protective orders work only within a state’s limits.

A no-contact order can exist only if criminal charges have been filed or are pending. Unlike temporary or permanent restraining orders, a no-contact order is not connected to a civil case. A restraining order may not be connected to any case at all.

Usually a no-contact order is imposed as a condition of bond agreement, bail, a sentence, or probation. No contact may apply to one alleged victim or multiple victims of a “crime.” It is usually imposed against the authors of violent crimes such as domestic abuse.

Violating a no contact order has more severe consequences than a restraining order. You might lose your bail, your initial sentence might be reversed, you might face harsh penalties, and be held in contempt of a court. Jail time is on the menu too, with up to 6 months in some states being given to defendants for only violating the no contact order. A no-contact order is usually filed by a judge, law enforcement, or prosecution.

Unlike a restraining order, a no-contact order does not involve any fees for the victim at all and might last as long as deemed necessary by state officials. Because the state brings the charges, not the victim, the alleged victim cannot ask for the no-contact order to be lifted.

While restraining orders are upheld only across a certain state, no-contact orders are usually upheld across multiple states or even nationwide in the states’ joint attempt to push back against domestic violence wherever it might happen. Check out the link for a helpful domestic violence guide and mind-blowing statistics about the phenomenon.

To Wrap It Up

There are several key differences between no-contact and restraining orders. While their content might look the same, the consequences for breaking them are very different and so are the people allowed to ask for the issuance of such orders or for those orders to be lifted.

A restraining order can be requested by a victim of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual violence even if no criminal charges have been filed against the alleged perpetrator. A no-contact order is usually imposed at the request of a prosecutor, judge, or law enforcement officer and the victim cannot ask for it to be lifted. A no-contact order can last for as long as the judge, prosecutor, or LEO considers it is necessary to protect the victim. The restraining order usually expires after a certain time under state law.

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