Violating a restraining order issued in connection with a domestic violence charge is a misdemeanor in Nevada. A first offense conviction is punishable by
- up to 6 months in jail and
- up to $1,000 in fines.
Restraining orders also go by the name protective orders. They can be
- temporary (45 days) or
- extended (1 year).
NRS 33.100 states that:
A person who intentionally violates [a temporary order or an extended order for the first time] is guilty of a misdemeanor, unless a more severe penalty is prescribed by law for the act that constitutes the violation of the order.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. What is a restraining order violation in Nevada?
- 2. What are the penalties for violating a restraining order?
- 3. What is the best way to fight NRS 33.100 charges?
- 4. Can the record be sealed?
A protection order violation is when the adverse party to a restraining order defies its rules. An example is an abusive ex-boyfriend going to his ex-girlfriend’s house after the court issued a restraining order requiring the ex-boyfriend (the adverse party) to avoid her.
The person the restraining order is taken out against is the adverse party.
Nevada courts grant temporary or extended orders of protection to people allegedly at risk of either:
- Domestic violence (NRS 200.485),
- Harassment (NRS 200.571),
- Stalking (NRS 200.575),
- Harassment in the workplace,
- Sexual assault (NRS 200.366), or
- Child abuse (NRS 200.508)
Each protection order is unique to the individual case. Protection orders may include various provisions, such as:
- Child visitation and custody rules;
- Continuation of payments of the accuser’s rent or mortgage;
- An order to relinquish firearms;
- Places and people that you (the adverse party) must avoid, such as the accuser’s home, school, or office; and/or
- An order not to contact the accuser at all.
Violating any provision in a restraining order is illegal in Nevada. Each time you allegedly violate an order counts as a separate charge:1
Example: Kelly and her sisters get a protection order out against their abusive father. The judge orders the father to avoid any form of contact with Kelly and other family members. The father cannot stop himself from making one harassing phone call to Kelly’s sister and trespassing at Kelly’s place of employment once. Kelly calls a law enforcement officer.
The father then faces two charges of violating NRS 33.100. One for the call. One for showing up. It does not matter that they stem from the same protective order.
Note that when someone initially applies for a temporary protective order (TPO) against you, the judge will grant it without giving you the opportunity to defend yourself. TPOs last 45 days (except that workplace harassment TPOs last 15 days).
If the alleged victim wants the protective order to continue, they have to apply for an extended protective order (EPO). With EPOs, you must be given the opportunity to defend yourself in court before the judge can issue an EPO, which lasts for one year.
Even if an EPO issues, you can appeal the judge’s decision to a higher court. Alternatively, you can bring a motion asking the judge to dissolve the EPO.
The punishment for defying a Nevada protective order depends on two things:
- The type of restraining order, and
- Whether you have previous violations
Purpose of restraining order in Nevada
Penalty for intentional violation of order
|Protection against domestic violence|| |
Temporary protection order (TPO)
Extended protection order (EPO)
First offense is a misdemeanor:
Second offense is a gross misdemeanor:
Subsequent offense is a category D felony:
|Protection against workplace harassment||Misdemeanor: |
|Protection against harassment or stalking, |
Protection against sexual assault, or
Protection of a minor child
Temporary protective order (TPO)
Extended protection order (EPO)
Protection order violations are completely separate crimes from any underlying criminal case:
Example: Ann is charged with battery domestic violence (BDV) for hitting Paul, whom she used to be in a dating relationship with. Paul takes a temporary restraining order out against Ann. The order mandates that Ann not contact Paul. Ann continues to call and email him. Paul tells law enforcement.
Then Ann gets charged with violating a restraining order. That is a different charge than BDV. Even if the BDV charge gets dismissed, she could still be convicted of violating the restraining order.
If Ann in the above example gets convicted of both BDV and violating the order of protection, she would get two separate sentences. They could run consecutively (one after the other).
Note that possessing a firearm in violation of an EPO is a category B felony. It does not matter whether it was a concealed weapon or not. The penalties include
- one-to-six years in prison, and
- up to $5,000 in fines (at the judge’s discretion).5
How best to fight allegations of restraining order violations turns on the specific facts of the case. Three common defense strategies include arguing the following:
- You were not properly served. Nevada law outlines strict rules for how to serve a restraining order on you (the adverse party). It usually has to be done in person by local law enforcement (such as the Clark County Sheriff’s Department) and with the correct paperwork so you are duly notified. Or if the police cannot find you to serve you in person, you must be notified by mail. If your defense attorney can show that there was no service or that the papers got lost in the mail, then you should not be criminally liable.6
- You had no intent to violate the order. Violating the terms of a protection order is not unlawful if you honestly did not mean to break the rules. If you accidentally run into the victim protected by the order, no violation occurred as long as you get away as soon as possible. “Pocket-dialing” is also not a violation since it happens accidentally. If defense counsel can demonstrate that your actions were the result of an accident, misunderstanding or a mental deficiency, the case should be dismissed.
- You were falsely accused. Perhaps the person protected by the restraining order falsely accused you of violating it. Police will arrest you based on this accusation alone and with no other probable cause. Whether the accuser’s motivation is anger, revenge, or an effort to gain the upper hand in a child custody case, it is common for these cases to boil down to a “he said/she said” scenario. As long as the D.A. cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you defied the order, criminal charges should not stand.
Note that it is not a defense if no one was harmed by the violation. Any violation is a crime even if no damage was done.
Example: Paul took out a TPO against Penny. Penny’s belongings are still in Paul’s house. One day during work, Penny sneaks into Paul’s house to retrieve her belongings without Paul knowing.
If caught, Penny could be prosecuted for a TPO violation even though Paul had no idea. Penny should have had a friend coordinate with Paul to retrieve the belongings for her.
A Nevada conviction for violating a protection order can be sealed. Though there is a waiting period depending on the case. Plus dismissed charges are sealable immediately:
Conviction for violating a protection order
Waiting period to seal the record in Nevada
|Misdemeanors, or |
|2 years after the case ends|
|Category D felonies, |
Category C felonies, or
Category B felonies
|5 years after the case ends|
|Dismissals (no conviction)||Right away7|
Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney…
If you have been charged with violating a restraining order or other unlawful acts in Nevada justice court or district court, call Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys for legal advice and general information. They may be able to negotiate a favorable resolution with prosecutors, or else they will fight the allegations all the way to trial.
Note that victims can apply for TPOs using courts’ self-help centers, such as with Las Vegas Family Court. Court clerks can help provide information.
Our attorneys serve clients throughout the state, including Las Vegas, Henderson, Reno, Boulder City, North Las Vegas, Mesquite, Laughlin, and Pahrump.
In California? Learn about Penal Code 273.6 PC.
In Colorado? Learn about CRS 18-6-803.5.
- NRS 33.100; also see NRS 33.020, NRS 33.270, and NRS 33.017.
- NRS 33.100; City of Las Vegas v. Las Vegas Mun. Court (1994) 110 Nev. 1021, 879 P.2d 739; see NRS 171.137. See also Grimes v. State (2014) 130 Nev. 1183.
- NRS 33.350.
- NRS 200.591; NRS 200.378; NRS 33.400. NRS 193.166. AB 51 (2023)(committing a felony in violation of a restraining order carries an extra 1 to 5 years in prison – or an extra 1 to 20 years if the felony was a category A or category B felony).
- NRS 33.031.
- NRS 33.070.
- NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255.