A conviction for most domestic violence offenses like sexual assault will attract long and harsh consequences, including the issuance of a permanent restraining order against you. While a restraining order is vital to protect victims of violent crimes like domestic violence, its conditions and requirements can affect many aspects of your life if it is part of your sentence, including your ability to find a reliable job opportunity.
Fortunately, you have an option to petition the court with jurisdiction over your case to modify or lift the permanent restraining order against you. At Lost Angeles Criminal Lawyer, we will help you understand how to comply with the restraining order conditions against you and eventually help you file a petition to modify or lift the order for a comfortable life without lifelong legal restrictions.
What it Means to Have a Permanent Restraining Order Against You
Before discussing what to do if you have a permanent restraining order against you following a conviction for a domestic violence-related offense, you must understand what it is. A restraining order is typically a court order in favor of the alleged victim of a violent offense related to domestic violence and can be temporary or permanent.
Unlike a temporary restraining order, if you have a permanent restraining order against you, you should expect severe and long-lasting conditions, for up to five years, depending on the facts of your case.
When the court issues a restraining order against you, your relationship with the victim of the offense, who could be your spouse, children, parents, will not be the same afterward because of its severe conditions like:
- Forfeiting your child custody rights
- You have to refrain from communicating or interacting with the victim
- Make payments for child support monthly
- Move out of the victim's house and stay a distance away from all the "protected" family members
If your relatives rely on you for financial support, it might be challenging to know when they have an emergency financial situation because the restraining order comes with communication restrictions. Without a way of speaking or communicating with your beloved children or other family members can bring conflicts, especially in that situation.
Apart from the above conditions of a restraining order, which affects your interaction and relationship with the victim of the domestic violence and other protected individuals, a restraining order against you will also affect:
- Your eligibility to adopt
- Your gun ownership rights
All these negative impacts of a permanent restraining order against you following a conviction for an offense related to domestic violence are sometimes unnecessary and unbearable. Violating a restraining order condition or requirement can also put you in trouble under the law according to Penal Code 273.6 PC.
If you are the "restrained individual" or the issuance of the restraining order was against you, you must already be experiencing its impacts in your daily life already. For all those reasons and to build a strong, loving family without all these kinds of legal restrictions, you should consider petitioning the court with jurisdiction over your case to modify or lift the restraining order against you.
If you wish to modify or terminate a permanent restraining order against you, you can do so even if you are still serving a sentence for the underlying offense. To increase your chances of achieving the best results when petitioning the court to modify or terminate/lift the restraining order against you, you should speak with a knowledgeable and skilled criminal defense attorney.
Why You Need an Attorney When Petitioning the Court to Modify or Lift a Restraining Order Against You
Even if you are an attorney, when dealing with a legal issue that is unrelated to the kind of law you practice, you should seek legal assistance. Only an attorney with significant experience in this field can understand the facts of your specific case and the best viable defense arguments that can work out in your favor during the case’s hearing.
To convince the judge to lift or modify conditions of the restraining order against you following a conviction for an offense related to domestic violence is a complex legal issue. However, you don't have to experience this alone if you have an attorney by your side.
Your attorney will protect your rights and offer you the legal representation you need to navigate this complex and unfamiliar legal world. Even if you face allegations for violating restraining order conditions, which can affect your eligibility to modify or lift the order, your defense attorney might be able to convince the judge you had a reasonable excuse to do so.
For instance, your attorney can argue that you had an urgent need or a reasonable family obligation to fulfill as a defense to reserve your legal rights to petition the court to modify or lift the permanent restraining order against you.
The defense attorney you will hire will guide you on the proper legal procedure for petitioning the court to modify or lift a restraining order and ensure your petition is complete as required by the law. To find a reliable criminal defense attorney to help you with this legal issue, you should consider the following tips for the best and an aggressive legal defense to secure a positive outcome:
Consider the Attorney's Reputation and Experience
An attorney's reputation and length of experience matter in court because every client's case circumstances and facts are different.
Consider the Attorney's Accessibility and Availability
Ensure you consult with your prospective attorney ahead of time to know his/her work schedule. An attorney with several clients’ cases to handle might not be able to dedicate adequate time to your particular restraining order case.
Consider the Attorney's Accreditation and Licensing
Lastly, you may want to have a licensed and accredited legal defense expert by your side because this is a legal issue that you cannot risk in the hands of a mediocre expert for the best possible results in your petition.
Modifying or Lifting a Permanent Restraining Order Against You
Unlike what most people assume, a restraining order will remain in effect for the specified period by the court unless you file a motion to modify or terminate it. Only the court with the jurisdiction over your underlying case has the authority to terminate or modify the conditions of the permanent restraining order against you.
As mentioned above, while a restraining order is sometimes an excellent idea to protect victims of violent offenses, it will affect you, the defendant, or the "restrained person" significantly. Since this is a court order, either you or the protected individual (plaintiff) can petition the court to modify or lift the restraining order whenever it's necessary for your best interest.
If a child were a victim of the offense, for example, in a child abuse case, the court would decide whether to grant the petition or not, considering the child's best interest. Although the plaintiff or the protected individual does not have to drop the underlying charges against you, he/she is eligible to petition the court to modify or lift the restraining order against you.
The plaintiff's motion to modify or lift the restraining order against you must be voluntary and will highlight the key points to prove to the court why it is essential to terminate the order, such as:
- He/she is no longer afraid of you
- He/she is willing to establish contact and communication with you
Typically, it is less complicated and overwhelming for the plaintiff or the protected individual to convince the court to dissolve or terminate the restraining order against you than when you file the petition yourself. However, the court will be keen to ensure you are not forcing or threatening the victim to file the motion to lift/modify the restraining order against you.
If that is impossible, it will be upon you to file the motion and prove to the court why it is necessary to lift or modify the conditions of the restraining order against you. Your criminal defense attorney should guide you on the process and legal requirements for filing the motion to lift/modify the restraining order.
Your petition to the court to modify/lift the restraining order against you should contain the following types of information:
- Full names of the parties involved, including children if any
- Reasons why you wish to lift/modify the restraining order against you
- The date when the restraining order against you was effective
Your reasons to request modification or lifting of the restraining order against you should indicate that you and the protected individual are willing to unite and reconcile. Once your defense attorney files this motion on your behalf, the court will schedule a hearing within ten days, which both you and the protected individual can attend to raise defense arguments.
Pieces of Evidence You Need When Filing a Petition to Modify/Lift a Restraining Order Against You
A petition to modify/lift a restraining order is a process that involves a lot of paperwork and complex legal issues. However, you shouldn't worry about this issue if you have an experienced attorney's legal guidance and representation.
During the hearing, which you might not have to attend, your defense attorney will bear the legal burden of proof. Your attorney must demonstrate to the court beyond a reasonable doubt why lifting/modifying the restraining order against you is necessary and vital in your current situation.
Below are common pieces of evidence the court presiding over your underlying case will expect your criminal defense attorney to present during the hearing:
To prove to the court why it is necessary to lift/modify the restraining order conditions against you, your attorney will need to prepare documentation such as:
- A certificate of completion of the court-ordered rehabilitation programs, for example, anger management or batterers' counseling program
- Pay stubs
The court must be sure that you are a rehabilitated individual and the protected victims will no longer be at risk of assault from you to grant your request to modify/lift the restraining order. Hence, you must comply with the conditions of your restraining order to avoid possible penalties for violating the order and increase your chances of winning a petition to lift/modify the order later.
Statements from Other People
Statements from other people will also strengthen your attorney's defense arguments during the hearing. Some of these statements may include (but not limited to):
- Oral or written eyewitness(s) testimony
- A written affidavit
Records from Other Law Enforcement Authorities and the Probation Officer About Your Criminal History
If you have a history of crimes related to domestic violence or violating a restraining order, it will affect your petition's outcome to lift/modify the current restraining order.
Before the judge modifies or terminates the restraining order against you, he/she must be sure that you don't pose a threat to the protected victims and the community. Therefore, a record from the probation officer presiding over your case or any other law enforcement officer might be necessary to attest to your criminal background.
Evidence or Any Proof Relating to Child Visitation/Custody Guidelines
Evidence or proof relating to child visitation/custody guidelines might be essential during this hearing if the court considers it relevant to the restraining order against you. Your attorney must prepare this evidence ahead of time if your underlying domestic violence offense involves a child, for example:
- Child abuse
- Child neglect
- Child endangerment
Suppose the above pieces of evidence works out in favor according to your attorney's defense argument. In that case, the court might consider lifting the order or reducing it to a "level one" restraining order, allowing peaceful visitations and contact with your "protected" family members.
Steps for Petitioning the Court to Modify/Lift the Restraining Order Against You
Petitioning the court to modify/lift the restraining order against you is a multistep process that your defense attorney should be keen to ensure no missing or erroneous information in the petition. Generally, below are steps to follow during this process:
i. Complete the Required Forms
One of the essential Forms you must fill and complete is Form FL-300 (Request for the Order), which contains different sections. Ensure you check and fill out all the required information on Form FL-300, including:
- Your full name and the name of the "protected" victim
- The address of the court with jurisdiction over your case
- Your telephone number and email address
When you want the court to modify or adjust the child visitation or custody orders, you must fill and complete Form FL-105 and any other Form related to your specific underlying offense. You will rely on your attorney when completing the required information on these court forms because you don't want to leave any room for errors on your petition.
Your defense attorney will review your paperwork before you file the petition to ensure it is complete and accurate for the best possible outcome.
ii. Make Copies of Your Forms
You will have to make at least three copies of all the required Forms when petitioning the court to modify/lift the restraining order against you. Two of these copies will be yours, and the other copy will go to the protected victim.
iii. File Your Forms with the Court's Clerk
File your required Forms and the necessary paper attachments with the court's clerk as soon as possible after ensuring they are complete and accurate. The court's clerk will remain with the original copies of your Forms and return the remaining copies to you after stamping the court date on the first page of your Form FL-300 (Request for Order).
Typically, you're not required to pay any fee to the court's clerk when filing a petition to lift/modify conditions of a restraining order against you. In case of any necessary court fee, your attorney will advise you on making the payments.
iv. Serve the "Protected" Victim
After filing your petition with the court's clerk, you must serve the "protected" victim with a copy of your petition papers. Since you cannot contact or communicate with the victim or plaintiff, you should talk with your defense attorney to know the best way to serve him/her with your petition papers before the case’s hearing.
v. Attend the Court Hearing
During the scheduled court hearing, which your attorney can attend on your behalf, you should carry copies of all your petition paperwork. During the hearing, the judge will decide whether to terminate or modify part of the restraining order's conditions, depending on the available evidence from your attorney and the "protected" party attorney if he/she is against your request.
Find a Restraining Order Attorney Near Me
When petitioning the court to modify or lift a permanent restraining order against you, you should retain the services of a reliable attorney to help you increase your chances of achieving a favorable outcome. At Los Angeles Criminal Attorney, we understand how essential it is to protect yourself from the harsh and overwhelming conditions of a permanent restraining order.
Our knowledgeable attorneys will be eager to provide you with the necessary legal support and representations you need to protect your interest and rights for the best possible court verdict. Call us now at 310-502-1314 to discuss your options.