A restraining order, sometimes also known as a protective order, is an order issued by a court to prevent a person from harassing, stalking, physically abusing, or threatening another person. Orders are specific to the facts and prohibit specific actions by the person named in the order. Under California Penal Code Section 273.6, it is a crime to violate a restraining or protective order.
Types of California Restraining Orders
There are four main types of restraining orders in California:
- Domestic Violence Restraining Order. Protects an individual from abuse by someone that the individual has a domestic relationship with, such as a spouse, parent, child, family member, or roommate.
- Civil Harassment Restraining Order. Protects an individual from a person who is not a family member or does not live with the individual.
- Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse Restraining Order. Protects people falling under the definition of elderly or dependent adult from physical, emotional, and financial abuse. An elderly person is a person over 65 years of age; a dependent adult is one between the ages of 18 and 64 who suffers from certain disabilities.
- Workplace Violence Restraining Orders. Order initiated by an employer to protect an employee from violence in the workplace or threats of violence in the workplace.
Levels of Protection for California Restraining orders
Each of the four restraining orders above can have one of the following three levels of protection:
- Emergency Protective Order (EPO). An EPO is usually issued when a responding officer feels that there is imminent danger of domestic violence, child abuse, abduction or elder abuse. An EPO is valid for five business days or seven calendar days from its issuance, whichever is earlier.
- Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). TROs are usually valid for two to three weeks. Generally, a court will hold a hearing on whether to issue a Permanent Restraining Order (PRO) before the TRO expires.
- Permanent Restraining Order (PRO). PROs may last up to three years and may be extended if the court finds that an extension is required. A hearing must be held to issue a PRO.
Violating a California Restraining Order
Under California Penal Code Section 273.6, a prosecutor must prove the following in order to gain a conviction for violating a restraining order: (1) there was a legal protective order issued by a judge, (2) the defendant knew about the protective order, and (3) the defendant intentionally violated the order.
Penalties for violating a California Restraining Order
Violations of protective orders are usually charged as misdemeanors. Penalties for violating protective orders under Section 273.6 include up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. If convicted for a second offense, the violation may be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony, which carries penalties ranging from probation and up to one year in county jail to three years in state prison and a maximum fine up to $10,000. The fines and penalties are more severe if it is the second conviction in less than one year. If a person suffered bodily injury as a result of the violation of a protective order, there is a statutory minimum of 30 days in jail.
Defenses for violating a California Restraining Order
There are several defenses that can be asserted against charges of violating a restraining order:
- Lack of Intent. If a person is aware of a protective order, but violates it without knowing, the defendant cannot be convicted of violating a protective order.
- Lack of Knowledge. If a defendant does not know there is a protective order in place, he or she cannot be convicted of violating it.
- False Accusation. A protected person can lie about a defendant trying to contact them or trying to come into contact with them. A protected person can also contact a defendant and arrange a meeting that would violate the protective order in order to "set up" the defendant.
Orange County Restraining Order Defense at the Johnson Criminal Law Group
Our criminal defense attorney at the Johnson Criminal Law Group will provide you with experienced legal defense for restraining order violations. If facing possible charges it is important to get in touch with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. We can be reached by phone at (949) 622-5522 or you can send us a message online today.
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