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 rules;
- An order to relinquish firearms; and/or
- Places and people the adverse party must avoid
Violating any provision in a restraining order is illegal in Nevada. And each time an adverse party allegedly violates 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. But 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.
The punishment for defying a Nevada protective order depends on two things:
- The type of restraining order, and
- Whether the defendant has 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. But 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:
- The adverse party was not properly served. Nevada law outlines strict rules for how to serve a restraining order on the adverse party. It usually has to be done in person and with the correct paperwork. If the defense attorney can show that there was no service, then the defendant should not be criminally liable.
- The defendant had no intent to violate the order. Violating the terms of a protection order is not unlawful if the adverse party honestly did not mean to break the rules. If an adverse party accidentally runs into the victim protected by the order, no violation occurred as long as the adverse party gets away as soon as possible. If defense counsel can demonstrate that the defendant’s actions were the result of an accident, misunderstanding or a mental deficiency, the case should be dismissed.
- The defendant was falsely accused. It is not uncommon for the victims protected by a restraining order to falsely accuse the adverse party of violating it. Police will then arrest the adverse party based on this accusation alone and with no other probable cause. The victim’s motivation may be anger, revenge, or an effort to gain the upper hand in child custody cases. As long as the D.A. cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant defied the order, criminal charges should not stand.
A Nevada conviction for violating a protection order can be sealed. But there is a waiting period depending on the case. And 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 away6|
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, 110 Nev. 1021, 879 P.2d 739 (1994); see NRS 171.137.
- NRS 33.350.
- NRS 200.591; NRS 200.378; NRS 33.400.
- NRS 33.031.
- NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255.