No Contact Order vs Restraining Order in Maine – What’s the Difference?

By Southern Maine Criminal Lawyer John S. Webb – Super Lawyer and Martindale-Hubbell Distinguished Attorney
Portland Maine Saco Criminal Lawyer John S. Webb

If you have been ordered to follow a no-contact order in Maine, you should not take any chances. Learning about the stipulations of the order could save you from having to face serious consequences including jail time.

A no-contact order is often confused with a restraining order, but the two are not the same. And, they can carry drastically different penalties. In general a no contact order is issued AFTER a threatening encounter has taken place, whereas a restraining order is granted BEFORE any violence has occurred. So a restraining order is used to prevent the potential for a dangerous situation.

Does a No Contact Order Specify How Much Distance Must Be Kept Between the Two Parties?

Yes, it does. Within the legal document it will state that the defendant must stay x number of yards away from the victim. The order also will list out the means of communication besides physical contact that are prohibited, for example, no phone calls, no Facetime, no Facebook Messenger, and no text messaging. If a no contact order has been filed against you I strongly advise not to have ANY CONTACT with the petitioner, especially where messages can be recorded by the wireless phone company or internet service provider.

I also highly recommend that you do not tempt fate by only staying 52 yards away when the restraining order stipulates 50 yards minimum. Do not play around with these serious matters. To do so could land you in jail without the ability to see your children for a long time.

After a no-contact order is filed, the court will specify the details, like how many feet or yards away the individuals must stay from one another. The defendant be face-to-face with the order petitioner at home, work, or school, and must cease all communication (see above) with the victim. The order will typically stipulate a certain period of time that the order is in effect, usually a certain number of days, or a calendar end date and time.

When this initial time period expires the petitioner may ask the courts to extend the length of time on the order. The presiding judge also can stop the order if they feel the petitioner is no longer in danger. If broken, the defendant may receive a fine, or jail time with a felony or misdemeanor charge (more on that in a minute).

The court of law takes these orders, also called “protective orders,” very seriously. If you are found in violation of such an order, you will have to answer to a justice system that is rarely forgiving under these circumstances. Breaking a no contact order is a very serious development.

You need to understand this order fully to avoid further legal problems, like a no contact order vs a restraining order.

Read on to find out what a protection order really means, including the legal reason for no contact orders.

7 Things You Need to Know About Your No Contact Order

Protection orders are meant to protect the filing party from suffering potential abuse or further harassment. They can also include protection for any children that may be involved in your situation, depending on the specifics of your case.

1. How Can Someone Get a Protection Order Issued?

If someone files a no contact or protection order against you, they are claiming that they need legal protection from domestic violence and abuse, rape, or stalking.

Maine law has specific guidelines that prosecutors use when defining the type of abuse that warrants filing for protection from abuse.

Their definition as it relates to an order of protection from abuse includes any of the following acts between family or household members or dating partners:

  • Attempting or causing bodily injury or offensive physical contact, including sexual assault
  • Attempting or placing another in fear of bodily injury by threatening or harassing behavior
  • Forcing a person to engage in conduct the person has the right to abstain from
  • Credibly threatening or committing a crime of violence against a person
  • Repeatedly, without reasonable cause, following someone, or being at his or her home, school, or workplace
  • Kidnapping and/or false imprisonment

The full legal definition of abuse can be found in the Maine Code, Revised Title 19-A, Chapter 101: Protection from Abuse and Title 15, Section 321: Protective Orders in Crimes Between Family Members.

2. What Is Included in a Protection Order?

A protection order may address the following:

  • The abuser is prohibited from contacting, harassing, following, or physically harming the protected person and any children or animals in the home
  • The abuser is excluded from the home, school, or work of a protected person
  • Spousal & child support, child custody, visitation, and pet custody matters may be decided, at least temporarily
  • The abuser may be required to attend certified counseling for abusers
  • Prohibit the restrained person from possessing a gun
  • There may be an order for termination of a life insurance policy
  • Personal property, household goods, and furnishings may be divided
  • You must refrain from taking or damaging property belonging to both parties
  • You may be ordered to pay for expenses from the abuse, like medical bills, court costs, and attorney’s fees

The items listed above are not all inclusive. The judge may also include specific instructions relevant to your case if they choose to do so, for example in a no contact restraining order do they check phone records?

3. What Happens If You Violate the Order?

While a protection order is “just a piece of paper”, it actually carries si

If you do not follow the rules set forth in the no contact order, and instead contact or attempt to visit the person and they call the police, you can be arrested.

You will then have to face the legal ramifications through the court of law for violating the court order.

4. How Long Is the Order Effective?

A temporary order is usually in effect until a final order is issued. A final order usually does not extend beyond two years, although there are exceptions if the judge sees fit.

5. What Is the Penalty for Violation of the Order?

The penalty varies according to how the order was violated.

If you do not pay ordered costs, child support, fees, or if you fail to attend treatment that has been ordered, then it is usually a Class D violation, which can result in a sentencing of up to one year in jail, or up to $2,000 dollars in fines.

If you assault the person or otherwise inflict substantial harm then you will most likely be faced with a Class C violation, which carries a sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 dollars.

6. Can You File a No Contact Order on the Other Party?

You cannot file mutual no contact orders in the state of Maine. The order is issued to protect one party from another potentially dangerous party.

Once someone has filed for protection from you, you are not able to file for one against them.

7. What Should You Do Now That the Order Has Been Filed Against You?

The best thing to do if you have been issued a no-contact order is to follow the rules and guidelines set forth in the order. Any deviation from these rules could cause you to be found guilty of violating the order and may result in fines or time in jail or prison.

No matter what your situation, you will need to obtain legal representation. An experienced, professional defense lawyer can help you to avoid further penalties and may be able to have the order lifted if it is the best interest of the parties involved.

If an order has been issued under false pretenses, the attorney can see to it that the truth is revealed.

If You Have Been Served With a No-Contact Give Us a Call

Don’t wait. If you want the best possible outcome, you need to make sure that you are armed with proper legal defense.

It’s urgent that you contact us today to get the legal help you need, including how to file a temporary restraining order in Maine.

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