In California, a court issues a restraining/protective order to protect a person or a group of people from harassment, threats, and abuse by a particular person. If you are the restrained party, the law requires you to abide by the conditions of that order until your case is determined in court. A temporary restraining order violation is considered a serious crime, punishable by a maximum of one year in jail.

If you have a temporary restraining order against you in Los Angeles, CA, it is advisable to hire the services of an experienced criminal lawyer. Your lawyer will advise you on what to do and not do and represent you in court to fight the restraining order to claim back your freedom. At Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer, we will protect your rights and guide you through all legal processes for a fair outcome. 

Legal Definition of a Temporary Restraining Order

Whenever there is a conflict between two people, or one person and a group of people, and the police are called, the seemingly dangerous person could be arrested and handed a temporary restraining order. The order is meant to protect the alleged victim against harassment, stalking, physical abuse, or threat of violence by the restrained person. A protective order allows the restrained person to go back to their life, but with a promise to adhere to the conditions of the order.

Four types of temporary restraining orders are recognized in California:

  • Domestic violence — A judge issues a temporary domestic violence restraining order against a person who has allegedly abused a person with whom he/she has a close relationship. A close relationship could mean that the involved parties are married, separated, divorced, domestic partners, dating or have dated in the past, have a child together, live together, or are in-laws or close family members.
  • Civil harassment — A court issues a temporary restraining order for civil harassment if the person seeking protection is experiencing abuse, stalking, or threats by another person who has no close relationship with them.
  • Elder/dependent adult abuse — A court could issue a temporary restraining order against elder or dependent adult abuse. A judge will do so if there are claims that the party seeking protection is a victim of neglect, abuse, deprivation of primary care, or physical injury. He/she must be a person aged sixty-five or older or a younger person who suffers physical or mental disabilities.
  • Workplace violence — A temporary restraining order for workplace violence is sought by an employer who seeks to protect an employee/employees against immediate danger, abuse, or credible threats of violence at their workplace. Employees cannot seek this restraining order. If an employee seeks to protect themselves against a co-worker, the employer must apply for the order.

California temporary restraining orders come in three forms with varying terms and conditions, namely:

  • The personal conduct order — The directive stops the restrained party from committing specific acts when the temporary restraining order is in effect. For instance, you (the restrained party) might be prohibited by the court from making calls, threatening, harassing, damaging personal property, or assaulting the protected party.
  • The stay-away order — A directive by the court for the restrained party to keep a particular distance from the protected party, his/her workplace, home, children, immediate family, or other specified places.
  • The residence exclusion order — It is a directive by the court for the restrained party to vacate from where the protected party resides.

Failing to adhere to the terms and conditions of a temporary restraining order is a separate offense, punishable by law. 

Restraining orders last a maximum of five years, starting from the date they were issued. When the police are called because of a disagreement between two parties, they have to arrest someone. Once you are arrested and taken to court, the judge decides whether or not to issue a protective order based on the facts of the case. The judge could issue a temporary restraining order, which could last for just a few months before a permanent restraining order. Hopefully, the permanent restraining order will not be necessary if you fight the temporary order in court. 

California law has emergency protective orders (EPOs), which are issued out in emergencies. EPOs only last a maximum of seven calendar days or five business days. The police are allowed by law to issue EPOs when answering domestic violence calls, but under the following conditions:

  • When they believe that a person or group of people require immediate protection against harm by another person
  • When they seek the help of a judge in obtaining a court-approved EPO

The protected person(s) can seek the help of a court to extend an emergency protective order if they still feel in danger by the restrained person and the period of the restraining order is nearing its expiration date.

Once the court issues a temporary restraining order against a person, they are given a court date to attend a hearing and determine the underlying cause. The court date must be honored, and its outcome will determine whether the protective order will be lifted or the judge will issue a permanent restraining order. It is advisable to hire the help of an experienced criminal lawyer to prepare a strong defense against the order and the underlying charges.

Violation of a Temporary Restraining Order

As previously mentioned, all restraining orders come with a set of conditions that you must abide by throughout the period the order is in effect. Violating these conditions is a serious offense, punishable by law. 

Restraining orders can have a significant impact on various aspects of your life. They’ll limit the places you could go, who you could speak to, and what you could do. Some restraining orders will also deny you access to your home or even talk to your children and loved ones. But even though the terms in your restraining order seem harsh and unfair, you must strictly abide by them. Failing to do so can attract more criminal charges and even more restrictive and extreme conditions. 

There are lots of ways in which you could violate a temporary restraining order in California. Some of the common ways are:

  • Moving close to the victim — Most temporary restraining orders will oblige you to maintain a specific distance from the alleged victim. Moving closer to the victim will be considered a violation of the court order even though the move was not intended to get closer to the victim.
  • Contacting the victim, whether physically, over the internet, or by phone — Generally, temporary restraining orders will discourage any form of communication between a defendant and the victim until a court concludes their case. Thus, you cannot email, text, call or even speak to the alleged victim within the court order’s period.
  • Failing to leave the home you shared with the alleged victim as ordered by the court — A domestic violence restraining order will require you to leave the house you shared with the alleged victim, at least until the conclusion of your case. You could face severe charges if you ever come back to your home before the court lifts the order.
  • Visiting the school or workplace you shared with the victim — It becomes even more complicated if you work or school in the same place with the alleged victim. A protective order will stop you from interfering with the work or school of the alleged victim in any way. It means that you might have to stop working or attending school for the period of the order.
  • Failing to observe child visitation or custody rules — Based on the details of your restraining order and the underlying offense, the court might grant you a few moments of parenting or bar you from making crucial decisions regarding your children. Even if the decision is at your disadvantage, you might have to comply with it as you prepare to challenge the order in court.
  • Failing to pay bills — You might have been ordered out of your home but still be required to continue paying bills like insurance, utilities, and mortgage. If you have children, the court will not do anything to deprive them of their necessities.
  • Possessing or purchasing a gun — Sometimes, a temporary restraining order might affect your gun rights. Thus, you might have to forfeit any weapon or ammunition in your possession for the period of the court order. Within that period, you might also not be allowed to buy or possess any type of weapon. If your job requires you to use or possess a firearm like the police or military, you might have to take a break from work until your case is determined.
  • Responding to communication attempts by the alleged victim — A restraining order discourages any form of communication between you and the alleged victim. Therefore, you must not respond even if the victim initiates communication. You could face charges for violating a court order if you respond to a text, email, or call from the alleged victim.

The judge will indicate the terms of your restraining order. Take time to examine your order and familiarize yourself with the requirements provided. It is also advisable to engage the services of an experienced criminal lawyer to help you understand the terms of your restraining order and what you must do to avoid a violation of the same.

The law against violating a temporary restraining order is under California PC 273.6. The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you willingly violated the conditions of a court order whose existence was known to you. The offense is a misdemeanor, punishable by:

  • A maximum jail time of one year
  • A fine of not more than $1,000

However, you could face felony charges for violating a temporary restraining order if it is your second conviction for violating a temporary restraining order or the violation was an act of violence. A felony conviction will be punishable by a maximum of three years in prison. Additionally, a felony conviction will carry additional consequences, including an infringement on your gun rights. 

How To Fight a Restraining Order in California

Once a court issues a temporary restraining order, it schedules a hearing quickly to ensure that the matter is heard and concluded fast. The protected party has already presented evidence in court while obtaining the restraining order. The court will probably set the hearing within 21 days after the protected party has served you with the order. Within those days, you must have reviewed their evidence to determine whether the court order will continue. If you feel that the court order was unfair and shouldn’t continue, the law allows you to fight it in court during the hearing. You must be well prepared if you wish to win the case. Here are essential steps you can take towards a successful outcome of your situation:

Consider Engaging the Services of a Lawyer

California criminal legal processes can be a little intimidating, especially if it is your first time to face a criminal charge. A criminal lawyer will guide you in processes you would never have hacked alone. 

First, your lawyer will help you understand the implication of your temporary restraining order. It is necessary to avoid further legal problems, like additional charges for violating a restraining order. Your attorney will also ensure that you understand the evidence presented in court by the protected party, which you must prepare to fight during the hearing.

As previously mentioned, the judge will schedule a hearing soon after issuing the protected party a restraining order. Therefore, you must act fast if you wish to regain your freedom and everything else you have lost with the restraining order. An attorney will help you prepare a strong defense against the charges you are facing. He/she will do everything possible to ensure that the court lifts the order and you are back to living your life as you did before its issuance.

Prepare Evidence

The judge will make decisions based on the strength of the evidence presented in court. The protected party will have presented his/her evidence in advance when obtaining the court order. He/she might also come with more evidence to support their claim. It is best to prepare your evidence and organize it well, so the judge will find it easy to follow.

If it is your first time facing a temporary restraining order, you might need the guidance of an experienced criminal lawyer in the kind of evidence you should prepare for trial. It could be in the form of text messages, photographs, or witness accounts. 

Be sure that your evidence does not go beyond the matter in court. Your argument should only be about defending yourself against the specific allegations made by the alleged victim. Go through the evidence gathered with your criminal lawyer to ensure you will follow the hearing to the end.

Put a Fight In Defense

The outcome of this hearing will determine the fate of your life moving forward. For instance, if you do not convince the court that a restraining order is unnecessary, the court might issue a permanent restraining order, which could go on for five years or more. It means that you might have to stay away from your loved ones, work, or school for that long. Thus, ensure that you put up a good fight in defense during the hearing.

The strength of your defense partly lies in the kind of evidence you have against the alleged victim. For instance, if the alleged victim has accused you of stalking or issuing criminal threats, you could tell the court that none of that happened, and the alleged victim is accusing you falsely. 

The strength of your defense will also depend on the competence of your lawyer. An experienced criminal lawyer will know the right strategies to use in your defense to compel the court to lift the order and allow you to go back to your everyday life. He/she will use the right words to convince the court that the restraining order was unnecessary. If your lawyer succeeds in this, the temporary restraining order will expire, and the court will convert it into a permanent one.

Note that if you do not win the case and the judge imposes a permanent restraining order, you’ll be able to appeal the judge’s decision to a high court. 

Find a Los Angeles Criminal Attorney Near Me

If you have been served a temporary restraining order in Los Angeles, CA, take time to understand its content and how it will impact your life. You might also want to know the various actions that could be seen as a violation of the restraining order if you wish to avoid additional criminal charges. Thus, the help of an experienced criminal lawyer goes a long way in ensuring that you understand the magnitude of the legal problem at hand. At Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer, we will guide you through all legal processes and represent you in court to challenge the order and claim back your life. Call us at 310-502-1314 for additional guidance and to discuss your case further.