This is part 5 of 5 of an extensive series of law articles related to restraining order law, authored by Rhode Island family court attorney and RI misdemeanor criminal law lawyer, David Slepkow. If you are considering a RI Restraining order, then you should carefully review these 5 articles.
What is the difference between a RI restraining order (RO) and a no contact order?
A no Contact order in Rhode Island and Providence Plantations is a decree issued as a result of a criminal charge and an arrest. A nco issues after an arrest at an arraignment either at the police station or at District or Superior Court. If an accused does not follow a No contact order and violates it, then he or she may be charged with a separate and distinct charge of violating an NCO. As was discussed in this extensive series of criminal law posts, a violation of an NCO may also be a violation of bail or probation subjecting an accused to being held at the ACI pending a hearing on the merits.
An NCO ends when the RI criminal case terminates (dismissal or not guilty finding). An NCO also terminates at the end of probation, one-year filing, deferred sentence, stayed sentence or suspended sentence.
A RO issued by the Family court, Civil District Court RO or a Superior Court RO stays in effect until the date designated on the restraining order. Interestingly, a Superior Court restraining order may continue indefinitely. A RO will be valid even if the NCO is vacated because the accused criminal defendant was found not guilty by a judge or jury or the criminal charges were dismissed by the judge or local prosecutor.
Superior Court in RI Restraining order:
If you are seeking a restraining order against a friend, co-worker, prior roommate, tenant, business associate, harassing neighbor, landlord or any other person, not covered by district of family court jurisdiction, then the RO needs to be pursued and litigated in Rhode Island Superior Court. Violation of a Providence Superior Court or RI Superior Court RO is not a crime in itself. If someone violates a Providence Superior Court RO, a Judge of the Court may punish through a contempt finding as well as contempt sanctions which could in fact lead to a period of incarceration.
If there is a no contact order protecting me should I also obtain a restraining order?
You should consult with a Rhode Island lawyer concerning this issue. If you feel you need protection in case the nco ends and are still in fear of the person then you may consider seeking a restraining order in addition to the no contact order. If there are crucial and important unresolved issues concerning RI child support, custody and visitation rights then you may also want to bring the matter to Providence family Court. If you need to seek a RI Restraining order in favor of your child, then you may need to file in RI Family court.
If the other parent is hindering or preventing visitation or communication with your child as a result of a no contact order or RO then you may need to file for divorce in RI. You may also need to pursue a separate action called a miscellaneous petition for custody, support or visitation rights in Providence Family Court. The Newport Family Court or Kent County Family Court can determine visitation and child support as part of a Complaint protection from abuse RO. (The Court can only set child support for 90 days in an abuse complaint)
In certain cases when domestic abuse is alleged, there may also be issues concerning alcohol, drug abuse or mental health issues. The Providence Family Court may order supervised visitations. These Supervised visitations may occur at the Providence Family Court or may be supervised by a third party.
Can the defendant testify in The Complaint protection from abuse hearing when he or she has a pending criminal charge?
This is an important determination for the defendant. The defendant must consult with his / her attorney and weigh the pros and cons of testifying in the hearing. A defendant in a criminal case has the right to take the Fifth Amendment and not testify in the case. A defendant in a complaint protection from abuse case must be careful because any testimony in the abuse case can be used against the person in the criminal case. The defendant can seek to continue the abuse case until the criminal case is resolved.