In cases of domestic violence, it is not uncommon for alleged victims to seek some form of restraining order against their alleged offenders. The state of Iowa has two different types of orders of protection, protective orders and no-contact orders.
There also different varieties of these two kinds of orders, and the length of time they are effective can vary. No-contact orders and protective orders stem from incidents of alleged domestic abuse, which is defined under Iowa Code §236.2 as any of the following kinds of assault:
- between family or household members who resided together at the time of the alleged assault
- between separated spouses or persons divorced from each other and not residing together at the time of the alleged assault
- between persons who are parents of the same minor child, regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together at any time
- between persons who have been family or household members residing together within the past year and are not residing together at the time of the alleged assault
- between persons who are in an intimate relationship or have been in an intimate relationship and have had contact within the past year of the alleged assault
When the court is determining whether or not there was an intimate relationship, it may consider such factors as the duration of the relationship, the frequency of interaction, whether the relationship has been terminated, and the nature of the relationship as characterized by either party’s expectation of sexual or romantic involvement. The major difference between protective orders and no-contact orders is the type of court in which each is issued.
Protective orders are issued in civil courts and do not require the alleged offender to have been arrested. There are essentially three kinds of protective orders:
- Emergency Order – If the court is closed for the day or weekend, an alleged victim can file a petition to seek an emergency relief. An emergency order lasts 72 hours, after which time an alleged victim can seek a temporary order.
- Temporary Order – Alleged victims typically file for temporary orders at the same time they apply for permanent orders, and temporary orders will last until there is a hearing for the permanent order. A judge may award temporary custody or visitation in a temporary order.
- Permanent Order – Following a hearing at which both the alleged victim and alleged offender will have the opportunity to get lawyers and present evidence and their sides of the story, a judge may issue a permanent order that will last up to one year. A judge may order the alleged offender to leave any shared living space, stay away from the alleged victim’s home and place of employment, surrender his or her firearms, weapons, and ammunition, and pay any attorney fees as well as child and spousal support. The judge can also order either or both the alleged offender and alleged victim to attend counseling.
No-contact orders, on the other hand, are issued in cases involving criminal charges. An alleged victim does not have to file for a no-contact order, as this may be sought by prosecutors during an alleged offender’s first court appearance. There are two forms of no-contact orders, depending on the stage of the criminal case:
- Temporary No-Contact Order – A judge will issue a temporary no-contact order when an alleged offender is taken into custody for a crime of domestic violence and the judge finds there is probable cause to believe that the alleged offender committed the crime of domestic violence or violated a previous protective order, no-contact order, or consent agreement, and any contact with the alleged victim poses a threat to his or her safety. A temporary no-contact order stays in effect until it is modified or terminated by subsequent court action.
- Permanent No-Contact Order – The court can either modify, terminate, or order the continuance of a temporary no-contact order if the alleged offender is convicted of a domestic violence offense. The court can enter a no-contact order or continue a no-contact order already in effect for a period of five years from the date the judgment is entered or the deferred judgment is granted, regardless of whether the defendant is placed on probation.
Regardless of whether the alleged offender agrees with the court’s decision to issue a protective order or no-contact order, he or she must comply with the directives contained in it. Any violation of its terms-even something as seemingly harmless as a phone call-can result in immediate arrests and many possible additional penalties.
Aaron Hamrock is an experienced criminal defense attorney with the West Des Moines law firm of McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. He represents Iowa clients against many domestic violence charges, including domestic abuse assault and child abuse. Hamrock has two decades of legal experience and helps people in Dallas County, Guthrie County, Madison County, Polk County, and Warren County.