Interviewer: What are some ways that people unintentionally violate protective orders, when they don’t mean to do it?
Danielle Hawkes: Protective orders have to be entered carefully. For example, if they don’t take into consideration, the kids and the transportation, and visitation, and things like that. If a protective order is just a wide-open protective order, and doesn’t account for any of those things, if you’re exchanging the children and you talk or you walk up to the house to exchange the children, you could be violating a protective order. Two things there. One, a protective order needs to be carefully drafted to begin with. Take care of all of the little detail, how the exchange will take place.
Two, once it is drafted, the person really has to be very careful. If the protective order says that you can’t be at the house, then really the exchange has to happen out on the sidewalk.
Direct Communication between the Parties must be Avoided if a Protective Order is in Effect
Interviewer: If someone has protective order placed on them, and the spouse called or text. What should they do?
Danielle Hawkes: They should not respond. They need to ask the attorney how to respond.
Protective Orders Can Be Modified to Allow Selective Communication between the Parties
Interviewer: Can I have my attorney respond for me. Is there any communicator or middleman?
Danielle Hawkes: In such a situation, for example, if I have a client who has a protective order against them, and the other party is texting them, my client will call me; let me know what the text say. Then I’ll call that other person’s attorney, and let their attorney know what’s happening. Obviously there’s a loop hole here that we need to figure out. Maybe we need to modify the protective order to allow communications regarding the children, or something like that. If the other party wants to communicate about the children, and that avenue isn’t available, then we need to modify the protective order, to make it possible.
Otherwise, my client is going to be vulnerable to that other person being able to call a police on them, whenever they decide do. It’s just not an acceptable position to be in.
Communication in an Emotional Frame of Mind Might Be Misconstrued as a Threatening Gesture
Interviewer: Are there any common unintentional threats that people make that will mend them into a situation that they may get into a protective order placed on them? Maybe there’s some verbal altercation, and you say something, you don’t mean. Does that ever happen, and if so, what are some examples of it?
Danielle Hawkes: Absolutely. These cases are extremely complicated because they involve communications at the height of passion. You’re so angry, everybody is upset, and communication is confusing. Every one of these cases involved really complicated arguments that happened between the people. Sometimes they involve complicated manipulation where people are sending emails that may appear to be one thing, but once you get the back story, are really another thing. You really have to present that evidence to the court and explain the back story to the court.
The court is not going to want to hear an hour-long explanation, it has to be done very succinctly and clearly, so the court can see right away when you stand up to the podium exactly what’s going on.