Both restraining orders and no contact orders restrain each party from coming within a certain specified distance of the other party, as well as from their home, place of employment, school, and other locations they frequent. Both types of orders also prohibit any contact by text, phone, social media, and email.
If a restrained party accidentally runs into the other party in a public place, then the party that was either last there or that recognized the other party first must immediately leave the area. This applies for both the restraining order and the no contact order.
Attorneys tend to advise their clients to seek restraining orders when they are concerned about threats of violence or harassment from their spouse. These orders may include anyone in the household that require protection—including children of the marriage. However, restraining orders are typically temporary in nature and do not always become permanent. Though judges may opt to modify or extend them, they usually only last for up to one year.
A no contact agreement, on the other hand, is a binding contract between both parties. This agreement is in effect for the duration of the criminal case, or until the victim requests it be lifted or removed. It can only be removed after it has been approved by the District Attorney and the judge handling the case. A restraining order is dismissed in its entirety as soon as a no contract agreement is approved by the court. Though a no contract agreement is generally reciprocal in nature, it may also be one-sided in certain situations.
Some of the major differences between a restraining order and a no contact agreement have to do with enforcement and penalties. If the other party violates the restraining order, the violated party may either have the restrained party arrested by the local authorities or cited for a violation of a protection order. The restrained party would then obtain a summons for violation of a protection order and be given a court date.
With a no contact agreement, a party may only call the police if there was a violation of a criminal law. Otherwise, the violated party would not be able to call the police for assistance, but would instead need to file a Contempt Citation. The restrained party would then be brought to court and a hearing would be set.
People generally assume a no contact agreement includes no protections, and is simply a promise from the other party not to make any contact. The reality is that penalties for violating a no contact agreement are generally more severe compared to penalties for violating a permanent restraining order.
While violating a restraining order can result in the violator being arrested on the spot, he or she may be released from jail on bail and potentially face penalties such as community service, anger management classes, and/or a fine.
Violating no contact orders offer the party no legal remedy unless a criminal law is also violated. The violated party, however, may file a Contempt Citation. If served with a contempt citation due to the violation of a no contact order, the violator may be required to appear at a court hearing, and may face up to six months in jail in addition to paying the attorney’s fees of the other party.