If you become the subject of a restraining order in Southern California, you must have the advice and services of an Orange County restraining order attorney, and you must get in touch with that attorney immediately after you are served with a restraining order.
What types of restraining orders are issued by California courts? What are your rights if you become the subject of a restraining order? What steps will you need to take? If you will keep reading this brief discussion of restraining orders in California, these questions will be answered.
Why Are Restraining Orders Important?
Each year, nearly a million incidents of domestic violence are reported throughout the United States. A restraining order is a legal tool used by California judges to curb and inhibit domestic violence in this state.
A restraining order legally protects a specific person from physical or sexual abuse, threats, stalking, or harassment. The person who obtains the restraining order is called the “protected person,” and the person named by the restraining order is called the “restrained person.”
A restraining order may also protect other individuals such as the protected person’s children or other members of his or her family.
What Are the Three Main Types of Restraining Orders in California?
The three main types of restraining orders issued by judges in California are:
- Emergency Protective Orders (EPOs)
- Temporary Restraining Orders (TROs)
- Permanent Restraining Orders (PROs)
When a California police officer answers a domestic violence call, that officer may phone a judge and request an Emergency Protective Order that will take immediate effect. EPOs remain effective for seven calendar days (or five business days) – enough time to request a TRO.
Only police officers may request EPOs. Judges are available around the clock and typically issue an EPO upon a police officer’s request. If you are named as the restrained person in an EPO, contact an Orange County domestic violence defense attorney as quickly as possible.
What is a Temporary Restraining Order?
After completing some paperwork, anyone in California may request a Temporary Restraining Order. A TRO takes effect at the time the individual named as the restrained person is served with the order, and it remains in effect for twenty to twenty-five days.
A Temporary Restraining Order may be issued if a judge is persuaded that someone in imminent danger needs protection before the court is able to hear the case. Before the TRO expires, a hearing will be conducted to determine if the court will issue a Permanent Restraining Order.
If you are served with a TRO, you will also be given a Form DV-120, “Answer to Temporary Restraining Order.” Complete and submit this form at once with your attorney’s help. It’s your opportunity to answer the claims against you before the Permanent Restraining Order hearing.
The person who is named as a restrained person is also given a Form DV-109, “Notice of Court Hearing.” This form indicates the location, date, and time of the PRO hearing. Make certain that an Orange County restraining order attorney accompanies and represents you at this hearing.
What Does a TRO Require?
The terms of a Temporary Restraining Order can be harsh. When you are served with a Temporary Restraining Order:
- You may not contact the protected person.
- You may not go to certain places or participate in certain activities.
- You might not be permitted to visit your children.
- You might be required to move out of your home.
- If you’re not a U.S. citizen, a TRO may negatively affect your immigration status.
- If you own firearms, you must sell them, surrender them, or put them in storage.
- You cannot buy, possess, or use any firearm while a TRO remains in effect.
A violation of a Temporary Restraining Order in California may be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony, and time in jail is the likely sentence for a conviction.
What Happens at a PRO Hearing?
The Permanent Restraining Order hearing is your chance to have a judge hear your version of the case. After a PRO hearing, the judge may issue a “permanent” restraining order which will remain effective for as long as five years.
After five years, the protected person may ask the court to re-issue the Permanent Restraining Order for five more years or to make it literally permanent.
If you fail to appear at a PRO hearing, the judge may issue a Permanent Restraining Order as well as court orders affecting your children, your child support payments, and related issues – without your say or input. These court orders may remain effective for as long as three years.
Can a Permanent Restraining Order Affect Your Parental Rights?
If you are a parent and a PRO is issued naming you as the restrained person, you could even lose custody of your child or children. If a court finds that you committed domestic violence against the person requesting the order, the court will make a “Family Code Section 3044 finding.”
Family Code Section 3044 is a California law which establishes “a rebuttable presumption that an award of sole or joint physical or legal custody of a child to a person who has perpetrated domestic violence is detrimental to the best interest of the child.”
In other words, if a California court determines that you have committed domestic violence against your child or your child’s other parent, any legal battle for the custody of your child will become substantially more difficult.
What Else Should You Know About Domestic Violence?
If you have been accused of committing an act of domestic violence, you may have acted in self-defense, or you could be the victim of a wholly fabricated allegation.
If you’re charged with a domestic violence crime or served with a restraining order anywhere in Southern California, you must be represented and advised by an Orange County domestic violence defense attorney who:
- is familiar with the Southern California courts
- routinely handles cases involving domestic violence and restraining orders
- will protect your rights and fight aggressively on your behalf
- will bring your case to its best possible outcome
Putting an astute domestic violence lawyer on your side is the smart and practical response to a restraining order or to any allegation of domestic violence in or near Orange County. If you are served with a restraining order, make the call to a domestic violence attorney immediately.