Written by attorney Richard C. Southard

What can I do to drop an Order of Protection in New York?

There are two types of Orders of Protection (OOP) in New York, usually referred to as a Full order and Limited order. The full order prohibits all contact of any kind (subject sometimes to family court orders) while a limited order of protection prohibits specific conduct (assaults, threats, harassment, etc.) They are requested by prosecutors in all domestic violence cases, whether or not the "victim" requests one and almost always granted by the judge. In almost all cases, the OOP is issued at arraignment before the victim has had a chance to express their desires on the subject. If the defendant violates the OOP he can be charged with Criminal Contempt of Court for disobeying the judge's Order. This is true whether or not the prohibited conduct was with the consent of the victim. In other words, even if the victim wants to talk to or have contact with the defendant, they cannot without the defendant committing a new crime. Unless of course, the OOP is a limited order and not a full stay-away order of protection.

So what can a victim do if the judge has issued an OOP and they do not want one? While only a judge can modify or eliminate an existing OOP, I recommend a three-prong approach a victim should take if they find themselves in this situation. First, set a realistic goal. By that I mean seek to have the OOP changed to a limited order of protection instead of no OOP at all. Since the conduct that will be prohibited in a limited OOP is the type of conduct that is impermissible under the law anyway, it makes what you are asking the judge to do seem much more reasonable. Second, you need to let the defendant's attorney know that you do not want an OOP; this way they will argue to the judge on your behalf when the case is on in court. You should also let the prosecutor that is handling the case know as well, regardless of how you want the case resolved. You should be clear in expressing to them your reasons for not wanting the OOP and make sure they know that no one is threatening or forcing you into this decision. Finally, you should coordinate with the defendant's atttorney to appear in court to personally let the judge know how you feel. There is no guarantee that the judge will hear you out but this will likely be your best chance at getting the OOP changed. Remember to bring proper ID with you to court and to keep as far away from the defendant as possible in the courtroom so as not to cause any problems with the court.

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