Domestic violence charges typically arise from emotionally-charged situations and the fallout can be overwhelming. You can find yourself quickly overwhelmed and not sure what to do next. You’ve been ordered to stay away from your accuser, but you desperately need to go home and get your bearings. Unfortunately, returning to the home you share with your accuser can land you in even more trouble.

If you’re facing domestic violence charges, Sarasota criminal defense attorney Erika Valcarcel can help. She can help you face your charges and get back home. If you would like to schedule a consultation, contact Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. at (941) 363-7900 to discuss your case and learn more about how we can help you.

The “No-Contact” Order

When you were charged, the court most likely issued what is referred to as a “no-contact” order as a condition of your release prior to trial. A no-contact order is essentially a restraining order, sometimes referred to as an “injunction” in legal terms. It is important to note that it is an order from the court that carries heavy consequences if you violate its terms.

The no-contact order prohibits you from having any contact with the person who has accused you of domestic violence. This may seem obvious, and most people understand that it prohibits them from any in-person contact with their accuser. However, what many people don’t realize is just how far the limitations of the no-contact order extend. In addition to having any in-person contact, it also prohibits the following:

  • You cannot contact your accuser by telephone,
  • You cannot contact your accuser via email or text,
  • You cannot contact your accuser via social media,
  • You cannot contact your accuser via the mail or send them packages, and
  • You cannot be in your accuser’s vicinity

Florida law also prohibits any indirect contact with your accuser. As a result, you cannot communicate or have any contact with your accuser through a friend, family member, or even your own children.

Can I Go Home? Not Yet

If you share your home with your accuser, you cannot go home unless the no-contact order expressly specifies otherwise. This means that you cannot return home for any reason, including the following:

  • To pick up some clothes or other personal items,
  • To move out,
  • To see your kids, or
  • To pick up your mail

Fortunately, you can get the order modified so that you can return home, but it will require permission from the court.

Modifying or Lifting the No-Contact Order

Again, the no-contact order is an order imposed by the court. As a result, you could violate the order even if your accuser consents to contact or even if they agree to ignore the order completely. You must get the order lifted or modified by the court before you have any contact with your accuser or you risk being charged with violating it.

As a result, you must file a motion with the court to lift or modify the contact order. The motion will set forth the reasons why the motion should be lifted or modified and the changes you are proposing. For example, you may seek the court’s permission to do the following:

  • Lift the no-contact order because the parties wish to resume contact, or the accuser voluntarily wants to lift the order;
  • You want limited contact to visit your children; or
  • You want limited contact for a specific purpose, such as to return home and get your belongings

The bottom line is that you should not return home until the no-contact order has been lifted or modified.

The Consequences of Violating the No-Contact Order

Violating the no-contact order is a first-degree misdemeanor and a separate chargeable offense. This means that you will face consequences for violating the order in addition to the penalties you are already facing for the domestic violence charges. If you are convicted for violating the no-contact order, these penalties will be imposed even if the domestic violence charges are later dismissed or you are acquitted. If you are charged with multiple violations of the no-contact order, each violation could result in a separate charge. The penalties for violating the order if you are convicted are as follows:

  • Up to one year in jail
  • A fine of up to $1,000

Also, you may be held without bond until your first court appearance. The bond that is subsequently imposed will likely be much higher than the first bond you were required to post.

Facing Domestic Violence Charges? Contact a Sarasota Domestic Violence Attorney

If you’ve been charged with domestic violence, the best thing you can do is contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Erika Valcarcel can help you get back home and get a fair result. Call us today at (941) 363-7900 or visit our online contact form to schedule a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you.

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