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MICHIGAN CRIMINAL 20: Respondent found of criminal contempt for violating the PPO.

Respondent was in a relationship with petitioner’s husband, which petitioner did not know until she intercepted a text message from respondent to her husband. After that, respondent and petitioner began communicating, exchanging written messages and voice messages via Facebook Messenger over a five-month period. The exchanges became increasingly hostile.

Petition for PPO

According to petitioner, respondent sent petitioner’s husband a picture of herself holding a big knife and a text that read: this is for y’all. Petitioner, provoked by respondent’s picture and text, filed a petition for a PPO against respondent. That same day, the trial court issued a PPO stating that such an order was appropriate because respondent had participated in repeated threatening and harassing behavior against petitioner.

By its terms, the PPO was immediately enforceable and would remain in effect until March 3, 2022.

Motion to Terminate PPO

Respondent moved to terminate the PPO, so a hearing on that motion was scheduled.

After filing the motion to terminate, respondent then drove a friend to petitioner’s home, to serve petitioner with the motion. When respondent arrived at petitioner’s house, she parked in front of a neighbor’s house. Respondent stayed in her car as her friend walked to petitioner’s porch and introduced herself to petitioner as someone from the court. Respondent’s friend attempted to serve petitioner with the motion, but petitioner refused to accept the paperwork.

Petitioner informed respondent’s friend that respondent could not be on her property. At this point, respondent left her car, walked to stand on petitioner’s driveway, and yelled at her friend to place the paperwork in petitioner’s mailbox. When petitioner informed respondent that she was calling the police, respondent dismissed her. The interaction lasted three to four minutes, and a recording of the interaction, as well as a picture showing respondent standing on petitioner’s driveway, was captured by petitioner’s house camera, and provided to law-enforcement officers.

Trial Court

The trial court explained that there were three matters scheduled for review: (1) petitioner’s motion and order to show cause for contempt for violating a personal protection order; (2) petitioner’s motion to increase the restrictions on contact; and (3) respondent’s motion to terminate the personal protection order.

The trial court conducted the show-cause hearing, which resulted in a finding of criminal contempt for violating the PPO. The trial court sentenced respondent to a 7- day jail term and a $100 fine but suspended the jail term absent further violations of the PPO and directed respondent to have her fingerprints taken.

The trial court ruled that it was not granting the order to expand the PPO and was terminating the PPO for failure to meet the legal burden because circumstances did not exist which would continue the term of the PPO. The court believed it was not a matter for a personal protection order. Neither petitioner or respondent was afraid or intimidated or harassed. They were harassing each other. But the trial court stated that the termination of the PPO does not negate the contempt finding because the PPO was in effect at the time respondent violated it. Thus, the suspended sentence of 7 days in jail and the $100 fine remained in place.

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