Can Facebook Contact Violate a Restraining Order?

If somebody has a restraining order against another person, contact is supposed to be off-limits. These orders come about through a civil proceeding and require that a party does not do certain acts. This can range anywhere from making sure that one party does not dispose of assets to one party harassing another party or coming upon their property unless they want to face arrest. If somebody is found to be in contempt of a restraining order, the court will hear the matter and both parties will be notified about their attendance. There are typically penalties that apply to these cases as well. For instance, a first offense is usually about a $250 fine and incarceration for 30 days, a second offense is $500 fine or incarceration up to 60 days, and a third offense is a $1,000 fine and incarceration up to 90 days.

Better to be Safe Than Sorry

When it comes to restraining orders, it is better to be safe than sorry. There have been many instances where Facebook comments or “likes” were taken a certain way and a defendant got in trouble for their actions. The American Bar Association has reported that commenting on a Facebook page can violate a protective order even if the post has no profanity or threats… it is just the act of contact.

restraining orderFor instance, take a recent case that occurred in New York. A judge made a ruling that a simple tag on a Facebook post and the notification it generated was enough to constitute a violation of a restraining order. A woman named Maria Gonzalez was forbidden from contacting her sister-in-law under a protection order. However, she still tagged the sister-in-law in a post, calling her “stupid” and then adding, “You and your family are sad… You guys have to come stronger than that!! I’m way over you guys but I guess not in ya agenda.” The Supreme Court Justice in charge of the case ruled that the notification generated by Facebook as a result of the tag was an infringement of the restraining order. Gonzalez, as a result, was charged with second-degree criminal contempt, which could lead to as much as a year in prison. Of course, this didn’t stop her lawyer from arguing that contact could not be over social network – however, this argument failed.

Real Life Contact

Off of Facebook, violating a restraining order can certainly lead to severe consequences such as fines or jail time. Every order and situation, of course, is different. This means that there is really no one way to say what is in bounds and what isn’t; however, it is common sense to avoid contact with the person in real life, so the same rules apply to online. The fact is, too few people fail to realize that what they say and do online actually applies to their real lives and that they can face consequences because of it.

Do you have a dispute to settle involving a restraining order? You can contact us immediately to get started on your case and receive the help you deserve. At the Law Offices of Amy M. Montes, we care about your case and will help you in any way possible.