The court issues a temporary restraining order, commonly abbreviated as TRO, to protect people from domestic violence, civil harassment, elder abuse, and workplace harassment. The court may also issue a TRO to help prevent dependent adult abuse. If a victim obtains a restraining order against you, the order will direct you not to abuse or contact the victim. In most cases, courts issue temporary restraining orders for 21 days. When the order expires, the court holds a hearing to determine whether to convert the temporary restraining order into a permanent restraining order. Violation of a TRO is a criminal offense in California that could attract criminal charges. If you have violated the terms of a temporary restraining order, Orange County Criminal Lawyer can help you fight the charges.
Domestic Violence Restraining Order
You may be guilty of domestic violence under California law if you abuse or make threats to abuse a person with whom you share an intimate relationship. Even if the close relationship no longer exists, you may still face domestic violence charges as long as you shared the relationship at some point. You share or had shared an intimate relationship with a person if:
- You are married to the victim, or you used to be married to the victim
- You are domestic partners or former domestic partners with the victim
- You live, or you used to live together with the victim
- You are currently dating, or you used to date the victim
- You have a child together with the victim
You share an intimate relationship with a victim if you are related to them either by blood or through marriage. According to the California domestic violence laws, a defendant can abuse a victim in various ways:
- Sexually assaulting the victim
- Physically hurting or attempting to hurt the victim intentionally or recklessly
- Threatening or making promises to hurt the victim, thus making the victim fear for their safety or the safety of their loved ones
- Engaging in certain conducts like stalking, threatening, harming, or harassing the victim. You could also be guilty of domestic violence if you disturb the victim’s peace. Threatening to destroy the victim’s personal property also qualifies as domestic violence under California law.
It is worth noting that there is more to physical violence than hitting the victim. You could be guilty of hurting a victim if you kick, shove, push, pull the victim’s hair, or throw an item at the victim. You could also harass a victim by restricting their freedom of movement. Following or scaring a victim also qualifies as a form of domestic violence. You could face charges even if you don’t inflict injuries on the victim. For instance, domestic violence charges may apply if you inflict injuries on the victim’s pet or their property.
Domestic violence under California law does not have to be physical. Domestic violence can also be spoken, psychological, or emotional. You do not have to physically hit a victim to be guilty of domestic violence.
A domestic violence temporary restraining order may restrict you from:
- Going close or contacting your spouse, your children, or another close member of your family
- The restraining order may require you to stay away from your home even if you own the home jointly with the victim.
- The restraining order may require you to stay away from your spouse’s place of work. You would also have to stay away from your children’s school.
- If you live with the victim at the time of inflicting the injuries, the temporary restraining order would require you to move out of the residence. Usually, restraining orders tend to favor the victims of domestic violence. In a case of domestic violence, the perpetrator and not the victim has to move out of the shared home.
- If you have the right to own or possess a gun under California law, issuing a restraining order against you may require you to surrender your gun rights. Restrained persons under California law often lose their gun rights.
- A California restraining order may require you to continue honoring child visitation and child custody laws. If you are living away from your children, the court may order you to pay child support.
- You might have to pay partner or spousal support if you are domestic partners or married to the victim.
- If you share pets with the victim, you may have to stay away from the pets after issuing a temporary restraining order.
- If you share a cellphone number or an account number with the protected person, you might have to surrender the cell phone number or the account number to the protected person.
- Even when the court issues a temporary restraining order against you, you may still have to continue paying specific bills.
- If you have a shared insurance policy with the victim, you can’t make changes to the policy after the issuance of a temporary restraining order.
- The same case applies if you have shared property with the protected person. You will not be able to make significant changes to the property when the temporary restraining order is in place.
After the court issues a temporary restraining order, the order is recorded in a shared computer database. All the law enforcement officers in California will be able to access this information. The temporary restraining order will work anywhere in the United States. Therefore, if you move out of California, you will have to notify the local police in your new state of residence about the restraining order. The same case applies if you move into California from another state, and you have a restraining order against you. The law enforcement officers in California will enforce the restraining order against you irrespective of where the restraining order was issued. It is important to note that a temporary restraining order has some limitations regarding domestic relationships:
- A restraining order can’t end your marriage or your registered domestic partnership.
- A restraining order will also not establish the paternity of your children.
Civil Harassment Restraining Order
The court may issue a civil harassment restraining order against you if you subject a victim to:
- Serious harassment
- Threats of abuse
The civil harassment restraining order will apply if the victim is not a member of your family or a person with whom you share an intimate relationship. The victim of civil harassment could be your roommate, friend, or your neighbor. The victim could also be your distant relative who does not fall in the list of domestic violence victims. For instance, abusing your uncle, aunties, niece, or nephew may qualify as civil harassment.
According to California law, civil harassment could be in the form of stalking, bothering, or assaulting a victim. You could also face civil harassment charges if you issue a real or a credible threat of violence against the victim. It should be evident that your threats of violence scared the victim seriously. This means that the threats made the victim fear for their safety for the safety of their family. Threats towards a victim could be oral or electronically communicated. For instance, you could make harassing phone calls or send threatening messages to the victim. You could harass a person by sending them harassing mails or emails. The court issues a civil harassment restraining order to protect victims from violence, assault, threats of violence, and other harassment forms.
After issuing a civil harassment temporary restraining order against you, the court will prohibit you from contacting the victim or any member of the victim’s household. You will also have to stay away from the victim’s place of work. The court will also require you to stay away from the victim’s family, including the spouse, children, parents, and pets.
A civil harassment restraining order will hinder you from visiting certain places, especially places where the victim often frequents. When a victim seeks a restraining order against, you might lose your gun rights. Thus, you will not be able to own or possess a gun until the court lifts the restraining order. If you already have a gun, you might need to surrender it to the authorities or store it when the temporary restraining order takes effect.
A restraining order could also have adverse effects on your immigration status. Therefore, if you are a non-citizen of the U.S and someone obtains a restraining order against you, you should immediately contact an attorney.
Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Restraining Order
If you harass a person above 65, the person may file an elder abuse restraining order against you. A dependent adult restraining order might apply if you harass a dependent or a disabled person. The law defines a dependent adult as a person between the ages of 18 and 64 years with specific mental and physical disabilities. Disabilities should be such that they prevent the victim from protecting themselves or engaging in ordinary things. Elder harassment may be in the form of abuse, neglect, isolation, financial abuse, and abduction. Any behavior that causes an elder person pain, physical harm, or mental suffering is a form of elder abuse.
You could also be guilty of elder abuse if you deprive an elder of the services or assistance they require. For instance, elder abuse may involve withholding caregiving services from an elder or a dependent adult. After the issuance of an elder restraining order, you will not go close to the elder. If you live in the same home as the elder, the law may require moving out of the home. An elder or dependent adult restraining order could also affect your gun rights and have negative immigration consequences.
Workplace Violence Restraining Order
According to California law, courts issue workplace violence TROs to protect employees from credible threats of violence and unlawful violence. This restraining order will require you to refrain from harassing the employee in question. The order will also require you to stay away from the victim. Just like other temporary restraining orders, a workplace violence restraining order may affect your gun rights and your immigration status.
Typically, employers request workplace violence restraining orders on behalf of their employees. The restraining order will not just protect the employee but also the family members of the employee. Employees can’t seek workplace violence restraining orders on their own but have to go through their employers.
For an employer to file a workplace violence restraining order against you, you must have subjected an employee to unlawful violence. Unlawful violence may include stalking, battery, or assault. You should have carried out or attempted to carry out violence at the victim’s workplace for workplace violence TRO to apply. It should be evident that your conduct is not allowable and can’t be resolved under a legitimate labor dispute.
Issuing a credible threat of violence means that you acted in a manner or said something that inflicted fear in the victim. For instance, you could have made threatening calls to the victim or sent harassing emails or messages to the victim. After the issuance of the workplace violence restraining order, the court may prohibit you from:
- Contacting the employee or any member of the employee’s family
- You also have to maintain a certain distance from the employee or members of their family.
- The order will require you to avoid visiting the employee’s workplace even for another purpose other than meeting the employee. The order may require you to stay away from the school that the employee’s children attend.
Responding to a Restraining Order
If there is a restraining order against you, it is important to understand how to respond to the restraining order. You should read the terms of the restraining order carefully. If you fail to honor the terms of a restraining order, you could go to jail or pay hefty fines. You should contact your attorney immediately to learn how you can respond to a restraining order. Your attorney will help you to prepare for the court hearing on the temporary restraining order. At the court hearing, you will be able to tell your side of the story.
You have to respond to the temporary restraining order before the court date if you want to tell your side of the story. At the restraining order hearing, the victim will testify, and the court will decide whether to convert the temporary restraining order to a permanent restraining order. You should never fail to attend the restraining order hearing. With the help of an attorney, you will persuade the court to suspend the restraining order against you.
Violating a Temporary Restraining Order
The California PC 273.6 makes it a criminal offense to violate a restraining order. Violating a TRO is a misdemeanor offense that carries a jail term that does not exceed one year. For the prosecutor to accuse you of violating a restraining order, they have to prove several elements of the offense:
- It should be valid that a court issued the restraining order lawfully
- The prosecutor should prove that you were aware of the restraining order
- The defendant could follow or adhere to the restraining order
- The defendant intentionally or willfully violated the restraining order
You can’t be guilty of violating a restraining order if you were not aware of the restraining order’s existence. You should also have had an opportunity to read and understand the terms of the TRO. Intentionally violating a TRO means that you acted willfully or on purpose; it means that you were aware that the restraining order existed, but you chose to go against it.
If you violate a TRO and commit another crime con-currently, you could face additional charges for the other crime. Therefore, you will face charges under both PC 273.5 and the other crime you commit.
Penalties for Violating a Temporary Restraining Order
In most instances, violating the terms of a temporary restraining order is a misdemeanor offense. The crime is punishable by imprisonment that does not exceed one year in county jail. The court may also impose a fine that does not exceed $1,000.
The offense becomes a wobbler if you violate the terms of a permanent restraining order for a second or subsequent time. If a TRO violation involves violence, the offense is a wobbler and will attract misdemeanor or felony charges. If the crime is a felony, the penalties include imprisonment that does not exceed three years in California’s state prison. The court may also impose a fine that does not exceed $10,000.
In most cases, violating the terms of a TRO will have negative immigration consequences, especially if you are not a citizen of the U.S. Violating a restraining order could lender you inadmissible into the United States. The violation could also lead to deportation from the U.S.
Violating a TRO’s terms will affect your gun rights if the prosecutor charges the offense as a felony. According to California law, persons convicted of a felony can’t possess or own a gun. Therefore, if you are guilty of a felony violation of a restraining order, the court will strip you of your gun rights. However, if the prosecutor accuses you of a misdemeanor violation of a temporary restraining order, you will not lose your gun rights.
You may apply for an expungement of the criminal record of violation of a temporary restraining order. However, for you to qualify for an expungement of the criminal record, you will have to complete the probation and honor the probation terms. If the court imposes a jail term, you have to complete the jail term before applying for the criminal record expungement. After an expungement, the offense will no longer show up on your background search. You don’t have to disclose the conviction to potential employers or other parties after an expungement.
Legal Defenses to Violation of a Restraining Order
You should not despair when the prosecutor accuses you of violating a restraining order. Instead, you should contact your attorney immediately to create a convincing defense against your charges. Some of the legal defenses that you can adopt to fight the violation of a restraining order charge are:
A Lawful or Valid Restraining Order Did Not Exist
You can’t be guilty of violating a temporary restraining order if a valid or a lawful restraining order did not exist. With the help of your attorney, you can fight the violation of a restraining order charge by stating that the order was unlawful. You may point out that the judge did not have a lawful ground to issue the restraining order.
You Did Not Know About the Temporary Restraining Order
You can also fight the violation of a restraining order charge by pointing out that you did not know of a restraining order against you. If you did not receive a copy of the restraining order, you can’t be guilty of violating the order. You can also point out that you had not read or understood the terms of the restraining order. However, the prosecutor has no burden of proof to show that you read and understood the order. The prosecutor only needs to prove that you received notification regarding the temporary restraining order.
You Did Not Violate the Order Intentionally
For you to face charges for violation of a temporary restraining order under PC 273.6, it should be evident that you violated the restraining order intentionally. Therefore, if you can prove in court that you did not violate the order on purpose, the court may reduce or dismiss your charges.
You can state that you violated the restraining order by accident or by mistake. For instance, you may have visited a particular place without realizing that the protected person was there. If you come across the protected person by mistake, you should move away immediately. You should not encourage any form of communication between you and the protected person. If the protected person tries to contact you seeking a reconciliation, you should not fall for their trap. By doing everything to honor the terms of a restraining order, you can prove in court that the violation was accidental.
Find a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
Violating a temporary restraining order is a criminal offense where the consequences could be severe. If the prosecutor charges you with a violation of a restraining order, you should immediately contact an attorney. At Orange County Criminal Attorney, we have assisted many people facing restraining order violation charges to create convincing defenses. Contact us at 714-262-4833 and speak to one of our attorneys.
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