NY Violations of Orders of Protection can be criminally charged as Criminal Contempt under New York Law. There are three different Criminal Contempt charges that apply to NY Violations of Orders of Protection. Specifically, these charges are:

  • Aggravated Criminal Contempt (PL 215.50)
  • Criminal Contempt in the First Degree (PL 215.51)
  • Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree (PL 215.52)

The difference between these charges is explained below.

New York Criminal Contempt Charges Explained

New York Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree

The least serious of NY Violations of Orders of Protection charges is Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree. This particular charge is codified in New York Penal Law Section 215.50.

Elements of New York Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree

In order to convict someone of New York Criminal Contempt in the second Degree, the prosecutor will need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person engaged in any of the following conduct:

  1. Disorderly, contemptuous, or insolent behavior, committed during the sitting of a court, in its immediate view and presence and directly tending to interrupt its proceedings or to impair the respect due to its authority; OR
  2. Breach of the peace, noise, or other disturbance, directly tending to interrupt a court’s proceedings; OR
  3. Intentional disobedience or resistance to the lawful process or other mandate of a court except in cases involving or growing out of labor disputes as defined by subdivision two of section seven hundred fifty-three-a of the judiciary law; OR
  4. Contumacious and unlawful refusal to be sworn as a witness in any court proceeding or, after being sworn, to answer any legal and proper interrogatory; OR
  5. Knowingly publishing a false or grossly inaccurate report of a court’s proceedings; OR
  6. Intentional failure to obey any mandate, process or notice, issued pursuant to articles sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, or eighteen-a of the judiciary law, or to rules adopted pursuant to any such statute or to any special statute establishing commissioners of jurors and prescribing their duties or who refuses to be sworn as provided therein; OR
  7. On or along a public street or sidewalk within a radius of two hundred feet of any building established as a courthouse, he calls aloud, shouts, holds or displays placards or signs containing written or printed matter, concerning the conduct of a trial being held in such courthouse or the character of the court or jury engaged in such trial or calling for or demanding any specified action or determination by such court or jury in connection with such trial.

Sentencing and Penalties for Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree

Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree is a Class “A” misdemeanor. As such, this particular NY Violations of Orders of Protection charge is punishable by:

  • Up to 1 year jail; OR
  • Probation up to 3 years; OR
  • Conditional Discharge (where the conditions of the sentence are imposed by the court such as community service or anger management program); OR
  • Unconditional Discharge (where there are no conditions of sentence); OR
  • Time served.

Practice Note about NY Violations of Orders of Protection

Although there are numerous subsections of Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree, violations of orders of protection are charged under New York Penal Law Section 215.50(3).

New York Criminal Contempt in the First Degree

The more serious Violations of Orders of Protection Charge is Criminal Contempt in the First Degree, which is codified in New York Penal Law Section 215.51. Under New York Penal Law Section 215.51,  a person is guilty of Criminal Contempt in the First Degree when:

  1. He contumaciously and unlawfully refuses to be sworn as a witness before a grand jury, or, when after having been sworn as a witness before a grand jury, he refuses to answer any legal and proper interrogatory; OR
  2. In violation of a duly served order of protection, or such order of which the defendant has actual knowledge because he or she was present in court when such order was issued, or an order of protection issued by a court of competent jurisdiction in this or another state, territorial or tribal jurisdiction, he or she:
    1. Intentionally places or attempts to place a person for whose protection such order was issued in reasonable fear of physical injury, serious physical injury or death by displaying a deadly weapon, dangerous instrument or what appears to be a pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or other firearm or by means of a threat or threats; OR
    2. Intentionally places or attempts to place a person for whose protection such order was issued in reasonable fear of physical injury, serious physical injury or death by repeatedly following such person or engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts over a period of time; OR
    3. Intentionally places or attempts to place a person for whose protection such order was issued in reasonable fear of physical injury, serious physical injury or death when he or she communicates or causes a communication to be initiated with such person by mechanical or electronic means or otherwise, anonymously or otherwise, by telephone, or by telegraph, mail or any other form of written communication; OR
    4. With intent to harass, annoy, threaten or alarm a person for whose protection such order was issued, repeatedly makes telephone calls to such person, whether or not a conversation ensues, with no purpose of legitimate communication; OR
    5. With intent to harass, annoy, threaten or alarm a person for whose protection such order was issued, strikes, shoves, kicks or otherwise subjects such other person to physical contact or attempts or threatens to do the same; OR
    6. By physical menace, intentionally places or attempts to place a person for whose protection such order was issued in reasonable fear of death, imminent serious physical injury or physical injury.
  3. He or she commits the crime of criminal contempt in the second degree as defined in subdivision three of section 215.50 of this article by violating that part of a duly served order of protection, or such order of which the defendant has actual knowledge because he or she was present in court when such order was issued, under sections two hundred forty and two hundred fifty-two of the domestic relations law, articles four, five, six and eight of the family court act and section 530.12 of the criminal procedure law, or an order of protection issued by a court of competent jurisdiction in another state, territorial or tribal jurisdiction, which requires the respondent or defendant to stay away from the person or persons on whose behalf the order was issued, and where the defendant has been previously convicted of the crime of aggravated criminal contempt or criminal contempt in the first or second degree for violating an order of protection as described herein within the preceding five years; OR
  4. In violation of a duly served order of protection, or such order of which the defendant has actual knowledge because he or she was present in court when such order was issued, or an order issued by a court of competent jurisdiction in this or another state, territorial or tribal jurisdiction, he or she intentionally or recklessly damages the property of a person for whose protection such order was issued in an amount exceeding $250.

Sentencing and Penalties for Criminal Contempt in the First Degree

Criminal Contempt in the First Degree is a Class “E” Non-violent Felony. As such this particular charge is punishable by:

  • Indeterminate sentence up to 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison;
  • Determinate sentence of 1 year or less;
  • Split sentence (jail time for part of the sentence and probation for the rest);
  • Probation;
  • Conditional discharge (with conditions set by the court).

Aggravated Criminal Contempt

The most serious of New York Violations of Orders of Protection charges is Aggravated Criminal Contempt. This charge is codified in New York Penal Law Section 215.52. Under New York Penal Law Section 215.52, a person is guilty of Aggravated Criminal Contempt when:

  1.  In violation of a duly served order of protection, he or she intentionally or recklessly causes physical injury or serious physical injury to a person for whose protection such order was issued; OR
  2. He or she commits the crime of criminal contempt in the first degree as defined in subdivision (b) or (d) of section 215.51 of this article and has been previously convicted of the crime of aggravated criminal contempt; OR
  3. He or she commits the crime of Criminal Contempt in the First Degree, as defined in paragraph (i), (ii), (iii), (v) or (vi) of subdivision (b) or subdivision (c) of New York Penal Law Section 215.51, and has been previously convicted of the Crime of Criminal Contempt in the First Degree, as defined in such subdivision (b), (c) or (d) of section 215.51 of New York Penal Law, within the preceding five years.

Sentencing and Penalties for Aggravated Criminal Contempt

New York Aggravated Criminal Contempt is a Class “D” Non-violent Felony. As such, this particular charge is punishable by:

  • Indeterminate sentence of up to 2 1/3 to 7 years jail;
  • Determinate sentence of 1 year or less;
  • Probation (in the event there are mitigating circumstances).

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding NY Violations of Orders of Protection

What is an Order of Protection?

An order of protection is a court order directing the individual charged with a crime (“the Defendant”) to stay away from another individual, typically a complainant or an eyewitness on the case. The orders of protection can either be Full Stay Away Orders of Protection or Limited Orders of Protection.

What is the Difference Between a Full Order of Protection and a Limited Order of Protection?

A Full Order of Protection prohibits you to have any contact with the protected individual – this includes in person contact, contact via phone, email, social media or through third party. Any form of contact, even if contact is non-threatening or criminal, will constitute a violation of the order of protection.

A limited order of protection does not forbid any and all contact. Rather, it prohibits commission of crimes against the protected party. So contact between the defendant and the protected party is allowed, as long as the contact is not criminal.

Violations of orders of protection, whether they are full stay away orders or limited orders will subject you to the same penalties. Potentially resulting in a permanent criminal record and potentially jail time.

Do I Need to Be Present in Court When the Order of Protection is Issued in Court?

You do not need to be present in Court when the order of protection is issued. Many orders, in fact, are issued ex parte, meaning “for one party” or “in the presence of one party.” The Defendant is presumed to have knowledge of the order of protection when:

  • S/he is present in Court when the order of protection is issued;
  • The order of protection is issued ex parte, but the order is properly served on the Defendant by the Sheriff’s Office or by the Police Department;
  • Defendant does not come to Court for a scheduled date, or bench warrants on the case. Then the Court will extend the length of the order until the Defendant’s return to Court. Whenever that may be.

What is an Access Order?

An access order is a provision in the Full Order of Protection that allows you to come to the shared residence to pick up your belongings. The Judge will give you a date and time certain for you to go to the location to get your belongings. The access order will also require you to have a police escort when picking up your things. Thus, you would first go to the police station to get a police escort and then you will go to your shared residence.

What Constitutes a Violation of a New York Order of Protection?

What constitutes violations of orders of protection depends on whether it is a full stay away order of protection or a limited order of protection. Any contact by the Defendant, even if initiated by the protected party, will constitute a violation of the full stay-away order of protection. However, only conduct that constitutes a crime will be a violation of the limited order of protection.

Can the Judge Issue an Order of Protection in Favor of the Defendant?

No, a judge cannot issue an order of protection in favor of the Defendant prohibiting the complainant or an eyewitness from contacting the Defendant. That is because the Court has no jurisdiction over those parties, since they do not have a case before the Court.

Contact NY Violations of Orders of Protections Attorneys Today

If you or a loved one have been charged with violations of orders of protection, you need dedicated criminal counsel by your side. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.