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Understanding Protective Orders in Domestic Violence Cases

Protective orders play a critical role in domestic violence cases, offering legal protection and peace of mind to victims. In Orange County, California, several types of protective orders are available, each serving different purposes and durations. This article explains the various protective orders, including emergency protective orders, temporary restraining orders, and permanent restraining orders, and the process for obtaining each.

Types of Protective OrdersEmergency Protective Orders (EPOs)

An Emergency Protective Order (EPO) is a short-term order issued by law enforcement officers. Its primary purpose is to provide immediate protection for victims of domestic violence, child abuse, stalking, or elder abuse.

  • Duration: An EPO typically lasts up to seven days.
  • Issuance: Police officers can request an EPO at any time of the day or night by contacting a judge. This order can be issued even when the courts are closed, such as weekends and holidays.
  • Scope: An EPO can order the abuser to leave the household, stay away from the victim, and cease all contact. It can also include provisions for temporary custody of children.
Temporary Restraining Orders (TROs)

A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) offers protection for a longer period than an EPO and is intended to bridge the gap until a court hearing can be held for a more permanent solution.

  • Duration: TROs generally last between 20 to 25 days, until a full court hearing can be scheduled.
  • Issuance: Victims must file a request for a TRO at the family court. This involves completing forms detailing the abuse and why protection is needed. A judge reviews the request and, if granted, issues the TRO.
  • Scope: TROs can order the abuser to stay away from the victim’s home, workplace, or school, and to cease all forms of communication. They can also include orders regarding child custody and support, as well as use of shared property.
Permanent Restraining Orders

A Permanent Restraining Order offers long-term protection and is issued following a court hearing where both the victim and the abuser have the opportunity to present their case.

  • Duration: Permanent restraining orders can last up to five years and can be renewed upon expiration.
  • Issuance: To obtain a permanent restraining order, the victim must attend a court hearing. During this hearing, both parties can present evidence and testimony. If the judge believes that ongoing protection is necessary, they will issue the permanent restraining order.
  • Scope: Like TROs, permanent restraining orders can include provisions for the abuser to stay away, cease contact, and address issues of child custody, support, and property use.
The Process for Obtaining Protective Orders

Obtaining a protective order in Orange County involves several steps, which vary slightly depending on the type of order sought.

  1. Emergency Protective Order (EPO)
    • Contact Law Enforcement: If you are in immediate danger, call 911. Police officers on the scene can request an EPO from a judge.
    • Judge’s Approval: The judge can issue the EPO over the phone, providing immediate protection.
  2. Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)
    • File a Request: Go to the family court and complete the necessary forms, detailing the abuse and reasons for seeking protection. Forms are available online or at the courthouse.
    • Judge’s Review: A judge will review your request, usually on the same day. If the judge grants the TRO, it will be effective immediately.
    • Service of Process: The abuser must be formally served with the TRO, notifying them of the order and the upcoming court hearing.
  3. Permanent Restraining Order
    • Court Hearing: Attend the court hearing scheduled when the TRO is issued. Both you and the abuser will present your cases.
    • Judge’s Decision: Based on the evidence and testimonies, the judge will decide whether to issue a permanent restraining order.
    • Issuance and Service: If granted, the order will be effective immediately. It must be served on the abuser to be enforceable.
Importance and Enforcement of Protective Orders

Protective orders are vital tools in safeguarding victims of domestic violence. They not only offer immediate relief from abusive situations but also provide a legal framework for long-term protection. Violating a protective order is a criminal offense in California, and offenders can face serious consequences, including fines, jail time, and additional charges.


Understanding the types of protective orders and the process for obtaining them is crucial for victims of domestic violence in Orange County. Emergency Protective Orders, Temporary Restraining Orders, and Permanent Restraining Orders each serve specific purposes and offer varying lengths of protection. If you or someone you know is in an abusive situation, seeking a protective order can be a crucial step toward safety and legal recourse. Always contact local law enforcement or a legal professional for assistance in navigating these processes.

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