No contact orders are very common when it comes to domestic violence allegations. This type of order prevents a Defendant from having contact with an alleged victim. It may also prevent a Defendant from returning to a home address. These types of orders cause a lot of chaos, disruption, and hardship in people’s lives and family. No contact orders are also often contrary to what the alleged victim wants.
Removing a no contact order, in many cases, is not easy. Violations of bond conditions including no contact orders can lead to jail.
How to remove a no contact order. There is no guaranteed method, because Judges have a lot of discretion in Michigan when it comes to setting the conditions of bond. However, there are a number of different steps that a Defendant may take that will help him or her improve the odds that the no contact order will be lifted:
- Have excellent legal representation. There is no substitute for great legal representation.
- The lawyer will need to address the no contact order by motion. Some courts will allow defense counsel to orally argue the bond conditions at court appearances. Other courts require defense counsel to file a written motion and to follow applicable court rules in the manner in which the motion is scheduled. The motion can address issues such as the financial hardship that maintaining two residents is having on the family, the toll the separation is having on minor children, the fact that the Defendant works out of the address that he is prohibited from returning to, etc.;
- The Court will want to hear from the alleged victim. A potential obstacle to this is the fact that the Defendant is not allowed to have contact. How will the alleged victim know to attend? In many instances the Court or prosecution will inform the alleged victim of court dates based upon crime victims rights laws. In other instances the Defendant’s lawyer tells the alleged victim to attend. It is important to note that in some cases it is beneficial for an alleged victim to hire their own lawyer. This may be helpful because it is often the case the the Prosecution is not on the same side as the alleged victim. The Assistant Prosecutor handling the case may be intimidating, bullying, and hostile to the alleged victim. Having a lawyer involved helps shield the alleged victim from this. If the alleged victim has a 5th Amendment concern (such as, but not limited to, being the aggressor in the case; filing a false police report; tampering with evidence; etc.) the lawyer will help him/her assert the 5th Amendment privilege. The lawyer may also be more persuasive with the Court in conveying the alleged victim’s position.;
- Attending counseling. Some courts want the Defendant to engage in counseling sessions to address the issues that lead to the allegation. However, sometimes there is a concern by the Defendant that attending counseling will be viewed as an admission to the offense, or that there is no need for counseling because the Defendant didn’t do anything wrong to begin with. You should follow your lawyer’s advice with regard to this factor.
- Taking prescribed medications in proper doses, if the Defendant allegedly has a mental health conditions that factor into the allegation against him/her
- Maintaining sobriety, if intoxication was a factor in the allegation. Proof of maintaining sobriety may include: alcohol/drug testing; AA/NA attendance; counseling; statements of family members; statements of an AA/NA sponsor; etc.;
- Following the conditions of bond. Many Courts will not amend bond if there are prior or existing violations of bond conditions.
Factors that may influence a Judge to not lift the no contact order:
- The Defendant has a prior assaultive history;
- History of prior police runs to the Defendant’s address. Sometimes a relationship may be viewed as toxic by the Court because of the number of time the police have been called out to the Defendant’s residence. This ties up the police officers time and resources to address other community concerns;
- The Court has a concern that the complaining witness’ testimony will be influenced. It is not uncommon for a complaining witness to recant the allegations. Sometimes this is a dynamic of domestic violence. Other times the recantation is the product of the complaining witness wanting to set the record straight – that he/she lied initially when the domestic violence complaint was made due to anger, jealousy, insecurity, intoxication, fear of arrest, or a number of other factors;
- The Court is concerned that the alleged offense will be repeated because the Defendant and/or alleged victim are not receiving counseling, substance abuse counseling, mental health treatment, etc.
- The alleged facts of the case. If the case involves excessive brutality, a severe injury, the presence of children, use of a dangerous weapons, etc., the court may be less inclined to remove a no contact order.
- If the case has media attention. Court Judges do not want to have bad press, and are always concerned about being reelected in the future. Most cases with media attention are not run of the mill cases.
- Mental health concerns;
- Other bond violations. For example, if the Defendant is not complying with other bond conditions such as drug/alcohol testing, the Court may not want to reward the Defendant by amending bond conditions.
- Prosecutor’s opposition. It is not uncommon for Prosecutors to object to lifting a no contact order, even if it is contrary to the position of the alleged victim. Some Courts, unfortunately, serve as rubber stamps to the prosecution.
- Alleged Victim’s opposition. If the alleged victim does not want to have contact, the Court will abide by his/her wishes. When such opposition causes problems with the Defendant having contact with children, usually the Court will suggest that such exchanges are handled by third parties or at a police station.
It is important to note that the removal of a no contact order by a criminal Court will not lift no contact orders imposed by other Courts. For example, if the alleged victim on the criminal case also has a Personal Protection Order (PPO), the order of the criminal court does not supersede the PPO or order of a family Court Judge. If the PPO and/or family Court Judge also prevents contact, that also would need to be modified as well.
If the criminal Court removes the no contact order, sometimes it will be replaced with a no assaultive contact order. The no assaultive contact order allows for contact but prevents harmful contact.
For any domestic violence offense the attorney to contact is Daniel Hilf of Hilf & Hilf, PLC. Feel free to contact him at 248-792-2590.