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  • Writer's pictureDavid A. Cmelik Law PLC

Love docket: criminal lawyer explains no-contact orders in domestic cases

It's that time of year again. Romance is in the air and sometimes, as they say, you can't fence love. Unless you're a judge. Then, you can definitely fence love under threat of jail and fines.

In an Iowa criminal domestic assault case, the Court will impose a no-contact order for the protection of the chief complaining witness, or, alleged victim. This is order is not subject to the whim of, and selective enforcement by, the alleged victim and can only be lifted by judge's order. The defendant should assume police, prosecutors, and judges will comprehensively and swiftly enforce these orders-- even if the alleged victim asserts that it is their wish not to do so.

Even if the protected party picks up the phone and calls the defendant first. In short, defendants should know in 2023 that is not legal to pick up the phone and call a protected party even if he or she reaches out first. It is also not even a good idea to pick up the phone and answer it if the protected party calls the defendant. Now, some would ask, "can't they get in trouble for that?" Technically, a protected party can be prosecuted for the aiding and abetting of their own no-contact order, but they will rarely do so.

Even if a prosecutor does file charges against the protected party, it doesn't help the defendant and the State has the discretion to refrain from doing so, choosing instead to chalk it up to the "cycle of abuse."

Violating a no-contact order can result in a fine and a jail sentence. Competing, applicable statutes make the specific penalty a bit unclear but defendants should assume that the minimum seven-day jail sentence is required--and a fine up to $500. Each call or visit can be prosecuted as a separate offense (in criminal cases) or litigated by the protected party (in civil no contact cases).

In some cases, a protected party can apply to modify or lift a no-contact order, but this is a formal process and results in a subsequent court order. The defendant usually has little say in whether a no-contact order is lifted.

Call us for an initial consultation if you have been arrested in an Iowa domestic case.


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