During the process of domestic litigation, there can be instances where a party seeks a protective order or no contact order against the other party for acts or threats of violence. In these cases, the party seeking protection petitions for a protective order or no contact order to prevent the other party from contacting and/or harassing the victim.
These protective and no contact orders last for a period of time. For example, most protective orders will expire after two (2) full years. But, can a party be criminally prosecuted for helping the other party violate the protective order or no contact order? The answer, as to the victim (person seeking the protection), is no.
This issue was just recently addressed by the Court of Appeals. In Patterson v. State of Indiana1, Ms. Patterson obtained a no contact order against her fiancé, after Ms. Patterson was the victim of domestic violence by her fiancé.
However, the parties reconciled and both were found by the police at the home of the fiancé, against whom Ms. Patterson had originally sought the protective order. The fiancé was arrested for violating the no contact order, and Ms. Patterson was arrested for aiding in violating the order, as well.2
Just a few weeks later, Ms. Patterson was again at her fiancé’s house while the no contact order was still in place. She was again arrested and charged again with aiding in violating the no contact order. Ms. Patterson moved to dismiss the charges, and when denied, she appealed.
The Court looked to Ohio law as a model for this issue, as there had been no precedent in Indiana for this issue (it is a question of first impression). The Court ultimately held that the Indiana legislature made it clear that protected persons might invite the perpetrator back into their lives. However, it is the perpetrator who must not allow the no contact or protective order to be violated, and a victim should not be criminally charged for aiding a violation.
The Indiana statue addresses the restrained party, and notes “…the Respondent is forbidden to enter or stay at the Petitioner’s residence…even if invited to do so by the Petitioner or any other person”. It is the responsibility of the person who has the protective or no contact order against him or her not to violate that order. As a policy matter, the Court also noted that prosecuting victims for aiding in violation may cause violation to be unreported as the victim might fear criminal consequences.
Protective and no contact orders are important tools to prevent violence against victims. It is essential for all parties to properly observe the boundaries and protections of these orders. However, due to the language of the law and the public policy of protecting victims, a party will not likely be charged with aiding the other party in violation of the protective or no contact order.
We hope that this blog post has been informative regarding protective and no contact orders. Again, always follow the order as written to ensure you are as protected as possible. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. practices throughout the state of Indiana. This blog post was written by attorney, Jessica Keyes.