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The Three Main Types of Restraining Orders in California

When you need the court to order someone to stay away from you, you do so by applying for a restraining order. There are three main types of restraining order:

  1. Emergency Protective Order (EPO)

    Family code section 6250 of California law empowers an officer of the law to request for an emergency restraining order if the officer has reason to believe that the person requiring protection is in immediate danger of domestic violence from the person against whom the restraining order is being sought.

    Only a law enforcement office can request for an emergency protective order (EPO) on behalf of the person under threat. Judges are required to be available 24 hours a day to issue EPOs upon request by police officers.

    For an emergency restraining order to be valid, it has to be issued by a judge or a commissioner and is issued after they have been established the below, as stipulated by Family code section 6251:

    • There’s sufficient reason to make the judicial officer believe that there’s present danger of domestic violence
    • A child is in danger of being abused or abducted
    • An elderly person, or a dependent adult is in immediate danger
    • That an EPO will prevent domestic violence, abuse of a child or child abduction from occurring or from being repeated
    • That an emergency restraining order will prevent abuse of an elderly person or a dependent adult from occurring or from being repeated.

    Once issued, an EPO takes effect immediately and is enforceable for 1 week (5 business days or 7 calendar days). If your abuser lives in your home, the judge can order him or her to leave the house for the period of the restraining order.

    If your case is a civil harassment case, only in the case of stalking can an EPO be issued.

    The purpose of the EPO is to protect the abused person while they are in the process of applying to the court for a temporary restraining order. If the judge grants a domestic violence restraining order, it is enforceable for three years.

  2. Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)

    A temporary restraining order lasts between 20 to 25 days. It is issued when the judge believes you are in immediate danger and you need protection before the court rules hears your case.

    At the end of the period covered by the temporary restraining order, you will attend a court hearing where the judge will determine whether to issue a “permanent” restraining order.

  3. Permanent Restraining Order

    This type of restraining order is preceded by the issuance of a temporary restraining order. Before a permanent restraining order is issued, a court hearing must be held. If during the hearing, the judge concludes that the person asking for protection is indeed in danger, he or she might issue a permanent restraining order.

    The length of time covered by a permanent restraining order will vary based on the type of restraining order. For instance, a domestic violence restraining order is valid for 5 years while a civil harassment restraining order is valid for 3 years.

Whether you are applying for a restraining order under family, civil or criminal law, the process for dealing with the above main types of restraining orders is largely the same, though the application forms might differ.

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