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What are penalties for violating a protection order in Tennessee?

When it comes to family cases, sometimes tensions run high. Because there may be disputes over other issues, such as child custody, visitation or support, accusations may be leveled that are not entirely based in reality. Because the state wishes to protect its citizens, it may often be fairly easy for a party to receive an order of protection in Tennessee, as the request may be supported simply by the testimony of the alleged victim. When issued, such an order could bar someone from a shared residence or from a place of business. It could also bar someone from coming within a certain distance of a former romantic partner.

While these orders are usually temporary, they can last for up to a year and can sometimes be made permanent. This could significantly curtail the freedom of movement of the person subject to the order, depending on the circumstances. However, violating such orders can have significant consequences.

In Tennessee, a person who knowingly violates a protection order can be arrested immediately and be required to spend 12 hours in jail. While the alleged violator may be released on bond before the hearing on the violation, the bond may remain in effect for the duration of the order as a way to prevent future violations. A person accused of violating an order of protection can be subject to penalties for a class A misdemeanor. Further, the individual can be subject to a contempt penalty of $50, and, if convicted of several violations, could end up serving consecutive jail sentences.

It is important that a person accused of violating a domestic violence restraining order recognize his or her rights. Because intent is important, the "knowingly" part of the criminal statute may be the key to avoiding or minimizing a penalty in certain circumstances. Having an experienced legal professional to explain one's rights and possible options may be an important consideration in such cases.

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Mathis, Bates & Klinghard PLLC
412 Franklin Street
Clarksville, TN 37040

Phone: 931-444-3153
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