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Facebook Tagging Violates Protection Order

by | Mar 25, 2016 | Criminal Defense

This month a judge in New York ruled that mentioning a protected person in a Facebook post constitutes communication and therefore violates protection orders. The criminal defense attorney in the case argued that the charges should be dismissed because the protection order did not specifically state that Facebook was a prohibited platform. The judge disagreed.

In Ohio, protection orders and no contact orders take various forms.

No Contact Order, Domestic Violence Temporary Protection Order, and Civil Protection Order

In Ohio a person can be ordered by courts to refrain from contact with protected persons through a variety of ways. A no contact order can be issued as part of a bond in a criminal case or a requirement of a sentence. A domestic violence temporary protection order (DVTPO) is usually issued as a matter of course when criminal domestic violence charges are filed. An alleged victim can also file a temporary civil protection order with domestic relations court that could eventually form the basis for a longer lasting civil protection order.

Over the years in Ohio, courts have routinely included “all social media” in no contact orders and protection orders. It is unclear whether a mere Facebook “like” would constitute contact in every jurisdiction but it is highly likely. Most courts require strict adherence to protection orders because of the heightened public scrutiny related to the accusations that gave rise to the orders. Under Ohio Revised Code section 2919.27, violating a protection order can range from a first degree misdemeanor to a third degree felony.

Ways to Fight No Contact and Protection Orders

Criminal no contact orders and DVTPOs should be dealt with in the criminal court. If charges are dismissed or if the defendant is found not guilty, the criminal no contact orders will be terminated. If a temporary civil protection order is filed, an attorney should request permission from the civil court to conduct discovery, which includes depositions prior to the full hearing. In many cases, a civil and criminal order is filed as a result of the same set of accusations. A good criminal defense attorney can dovetail the discovery in the civil case with the preparation for the defense in the criminal case.