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Text Messages Violated Protective Order

A defendant’s assertion that he did not speak English very well does not help his claim that he did not receive notice of his wife’s protective order against him, which was served on him by a Spanish-speaking deputy, and the Court of Appeals affirms defendant’s conviction for violating the protective order.

The order clearly stated defendant could have no contact with family members, except by telephone with his wife to discuss household bills. Defendant’s failure to read the papers or to ascertain their content does not nullify the fact that he received actual notice. The commonwealth met its burden in proving defendant had notice of the order.

Defendant argues that when he was served with the order the officer did not explain the terms of the order in his native tongue. We find no authority that the process server must explain the document to the recipient in order for him to have knowledge of the terms of the order.

Here, defendant received personal service and thus is charged with notice of the contents of the order. Neither Va. Code § 16.1-253.1 nor § 16.1-264 requires the process server to explain or interpret the order being served. If the litigant is properly served, it is incumbent upon the recipient to learn the import of the order. The trial court did not err by finding defendant had proper personal service and notice of the terms of the order.

Defendant contends the commonwealth did not prove he intended to violate the order. Defendant was able to respond at times without the help of the interpreter and there was evidence that he used English in his employment of nine years. His wife also testified that the deputy spoke Spanish to defendant. The trial court reasonably could rely on this evidence to determine that defendant had sufficient understanding to recognize he was violating the terms of the order when he texted wife and asked to talk to family members.

Conviction affirmed.

Cardenas-Najarro v. Commonwealth (Annunziata) No. 0699-13-4, March 4, 2014; Loudoun County Cir.Ct. (McCahill) Thomas K. Plofchan Jr. for appellant; Susan Baumgartner, AAG, for appellee. VLW 014-7-064(UP), 8 pp.

VLW 014-7-064

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