How does a person obtain his or her personal belongings in Rhode Island (RI) when there is a criminal no contact order / Family Court restraining order or District Court Restraining Order?
A person arrested for a criminal domestic violence offense involving his wife or girlfriend, who he resides with, often needs to obtain his clothes and personal belongings despite the fact that there is a no contact order in effect. This also applies when there is a restraining order in effect.
Personal belongings usually consists of personal property such as clothes, sneakers, toiletries, uniforms, personal effects etc.
There are several proper ways for an accused to obtain his / her personal belongings when there is a no contact order / restraining order in effect:
(1) The accused can contact the police department where the victim resides and seek to make arrangements to pick up personal belongings. The police will often escort the person to the home. The downside of this arrangement is that the police often are in a rush and enforce a time limit.
(2) If the accused has a private attorney, the lawyer can contact the victims attorney who can contact the victim to make arrangements. The accused’s attorney can also seek to contact the victim to make arrangements (if the victim has no lawyer). This can have pitfalls because the victim may be hostile or the victim may have no interest in negotiating. The accused can also call the victims lawyers to make arrangements.
(3) The accused can attempt to arrange to get his belongings through a third party such as a friend or family member who knows the victim. The accused must be careful not to violate the no contact order.
(4) The accused can seek relief from the Family Court or the District Court where the restraining orders were filed in an attempt to retrieve their belongings.
If there is a criminal no contact order the Criminal Judge will not get involved in helping retrieve the accuseds’ personal property.
There is absolutely no Rhode Island (RI) case law concerning this matter!