The frenzied and light-speed pace of social media websites has allowed people to connect in ways we could not have imagined just a few years ago. Photos, videos, and messages can be exchanged within moments, all from your smartphone or tablet devices. Yet throw a criminal protective order or civil restraining order into the mix and suddenly social media fun escalates into felony.
Ask any top Greenwich or Stamford criminal lawyer: domestic violence dockets and courtrooms are packed to capacity these days in Stamford, Norwalk and Bridgeport. And with each of these criminal cases, the domestic violence courts almost always order some form of criminal protective order in each case to protect the alleged victims. These orders can be very restrictive, as in the case of “full no contact” orders which prohibit any kind of contact between the defendant and victim and prevent the defendant from entering the residence or workplace of the victim. Or the less restrictive “full residential stay-away” order which allows contact between defendant and victim, but still prevents the suspect from entering the home or workplace of the victim. Then there’s the least restrictive criminal protective order—the “partial” protective order—which only orders the defendant not to “threaten, intimidate or harass” the victim. A charge for Criminal Violation of a Protective Order results in a criminal felony charge under C.G.S. § 53a-223 (click here for the full text of the statute). A conviction is punishable by up to 5 years in jail, a $5000 fine and probation.
Separate and apart from any criminal protective order associated with a pending criminal case are civil restraining orders which victims can seek out in Connecticut family courts. These can be ordered in addition to criminal protective orders or can be ordered even if there is no arrest or pending criminal case. These Connecticut civil restraining orders come in the same three forms as the criminal protective orders described above, and if you violate a civil restraining order, then you will face a felony Violation of a Civil Restraining Order felony charge under C.G.S. § 53a-223b (click here for the statute). Similar to its counterpart above, a conviction can result in a maximum 5 years jail sentence, $5000 fine and probation.
Can Texting and Facebook Postings Really Result in a Felony Charge?
One of the most frequent calls we get from our domestic violence clients is whether they can be arrested for violating a protective / restraining order for simply texting, emailing or engaging in Faceook / Twitter / Instagram activity with the protected person or victim. The answer is an unequivocal YES. “No contact” means no contact whatsoever, and the prosecutors and domestic violence court judges have zero tolerance for any violations of this order. Even an automated Facebook email or message that goes out to a group distribution list but that accidentally or unintentionally gets sent to a restraining order protected person can result in a felony charge. Once we are hired by a domestic violence client, we sit with our clients and audit and review all of their social media to ensure that none of their messaging and email applications are going to violate the court’s restraining orders. This is why if you have a civil or criminal restraining order hanging over your head then you should contact a top Stamford criminal lawyer or top Connecticut domestic violence lawyer to help you modify the restraining order and get your charges dismissed as quickly as possible.
Even “third party contact” can result in a felony arrest for criminal violation of a protective order. This is when someone who is subject to a restraining order asks a friend or relative to relay a message to a protected person. Again, this is a technical violation that can result in a felony arrest.
Contact a Top Stamford and Greenwich Domestic Violence Lawyer to Fight Your Violation of Protective Order Charges
Criminal protective orders and civil restraining orders in Connecticut are serious, especially when you have an angry or emotional spouse or partner who is trying to get you arrested for violating it. Don’t let them use these orders are swords (instead of shields). Thus, if you are facing felony charges of Criminal Violation of a Protective Order under C.G.S. § 53a-223 or Violation of a Civil Restraining Order under C.G.S. § 53a-223b, contact an experienced domestic violence criminal lawyer at Mark Sherman Law. Our rates are competitive and we work with one goal in mind: the results possible. Give us a call today at (203) 358-4700.