This is the next post in our series discussing defending against harassment or stalking charges in Little Rock, Arkansas. Our last article discussed the legal definitions of these offenses and the penalties that may apply if one is convicted. It is important to understand that convictions may result in incarceration, fines, and permanent criminal records. Those convicted of felony charges may be prohibited from possessing firearms or voting. It is crucial that you contact a criminal defense attorney immediately if you or a loved one have been accused of stalking or harassment. In this article, we will discuss how individuals should respond after being served with an order of protection or no contact order. Contact our office today to speak with a Little Rock defense lawyer.
Individuals accused of stalking or harassment may become the subject of an order of protection (when the alleged offense involves a family member) or of a “no contact” order issued by an Arkansas court. These are commonly referred to as restraining orders. Such orders can be issued at the request of an alleged victim or after a person has been arrested on such charges. For the safety of the victim, protective orders are often issued on an emergency basis, without a hearing. This means that a person can accuse you of engaging in harassing or stalking and, if the Judge determines that they are in danger based on their accusations, a temporary protective order will be issued without your knowledge. This is true even if the allegations are false. Afterward, you will receive notice that the temporary order has been issued and information about when your hearing will take place. If a temporary order is not justified, the Judge may still schedule a future hearing on the issue. At the hearing, the Judge will decide whether to terminate or extend an existing temporary order or issue a new order for the victim’s protection. The hearing is your opportunity to present evidence in your defense. Unfortunately, many residents fail to understand the importance of attending the hearing and miss their opportunity to defend themselves.
Once a temporary or standard protective order is in place, it is imperative to follow its terms. This means the subject may not have any interactions or contact with the alleged victim, either directly or indirectly, or go near them. Text messages, phone calls, or email contact will not be allowed. The accused, if living with their accuser, will be prohibited from staying in their own residence, seeing their children, and more. Third parties cannot initiate contact with the protected person on your behalf. Violating the order can result in criminal charges and incarceration. If you are involved in a divorce or child custody dispute and are subject to a protective order, your parental rights may also be negatively impacted. A Judge must consider such information when evaluating what custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child. Depending upon the facts of your case, the Court may insist upon supervised visitation or terminate parental rights entirely until the matter is resolved.
If you receive notice that a protective order has been filed and set for hearing, calling an experienced lawyer immediately is critical. If you need assistance, contact us today to speak to a lawyer. In addition to Little Rock, we also handle matters in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Pine Bluff, and throughout the rest of Arkansas.