What is a No Contact Order? - Definition, Examples & Rules

Instructor: Millicent Kelly

Millicent has been teaching at the university level since 2004. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice and a Master's degree in Human Resources.

At times situations arise in which individuals become vulnerable and need legal protection from other individuals. This lesson will look at no contact orders, when they are warranted, and provide examples of situations in which they can be requested.

Erin's Divorce

Erin and Michael have been married for eight years. Michael has been verbally and physically abusive, and Erin has filed for divorce. When Michael starts repeatedly threatening to harm Erin if she continues with the divorce proceedings, Erin's lawyer advises her to file for a no contact order as a protective measure.

Defining No Contact and Restraining Orders

Depending upon what state someone resides in, no contact orders and restraining orders can essentially mean the same thing or refer to different orders of protection. In states where they are similar, no contact and restraining orders are orders of protection sought by individuals like Erin who feel threatened by another person. The courts will be the ultimate judge as to whether or not a no contact order is warranted.

Some states, however, distinguish between no contact orders and restraining orders. When this is the case, no contact orders are said to apply to criminal cases where the victim of a crime seeks protection, whereas restraining orders are orders sought in civil cases that can involve things such as domestic issues, problems with neighbors, protecting elderly adults, and providing protection from unwanted followers or stalkers.

No contact orders are usually temporary and are set for a specific pre-determined amount of time. It is important to note that orders are not in effect until the offending party has been officially notified that a no contact order is being sought.

What Do No Contact Orders Accomplish?

No contact orders are legal judgements that prevent an individual from contacting the individual who is seeking the protection. As stated previously, no contact orders are commonly sought in cases of domestic violence, stalking, criminal matters, or other situations in which someone feels they are in danger of harm. No contact orders require that the offending individual has no contact whatsoever with the person seeking the order. This includes no direct contact such as:

  • Phoning or texting
  • Sending faxes or writing emails
  • Approaching the individual in person
  • Going to a location the individual is known to frequent
  • Sending messages and posting on social media sites
  • Sending gifts

No contact orders also prohibit having indirect contact with the individual. Indirect contact can take place in the form of:

  • Asking a friend or relative to deliver messages or send a text
  • Using a florist or gift service to arrange deliveries
  • Paying someone to deliver a message or gift

Violating, Removing, and Extending No Contact Orders

Most state courts consider violations of no contact orders to be criminal infractions, regardless of which party violates the order. Violations occur when either party resumes contact or communication of any kind, whether direct or indirect. For violations of no contact orders in criminal cases, as an example, offenders may risk bond revocation or a significant bond increase.

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