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Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)

A Temporary Restraining Order, commonly known as a TRO, is a written instruction issued by a court or judge that temporarily protects people from Domestic Violence, Civil Harassment, Workplace Violence, and Elder Abuse. This court order directs the abuser to not contact and abuse the victim (i.e., person seeking the TRO). It regulates and restricts the behavior of the abuser. A TRO is generally issued for 21 days. In some cases it can last a bit longer, usually until the abuser is served with the TRO. There are several types of Restraining Orders:

  • Domestic Violence – Domestic Violence Restraining Orders require a special relationship between the parties such as: spouses; former spouses; persons related by blood or marriage; parties with a child in common; partners and persons in a dating relationship. To obtain a Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO) the victim or complainant must demonstrate to the court by a preponderance of the evidence that the victim has suffered some type of abuse which could include bodily injury (causing or attempted), sexual assault, or has been placed in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury.
  • Workplace Violence – An employer may obtain a Restraining Order to protect an employee from being subjected to unnecessary violence and threats of violence at the workplace. The restraining order extends protection to certain family or household members and other employees at the workplace.
  • Civil Harassment - For a Restraining Order involving Civil Harassment, also referred to as a CHRO to issue, there need not be a special relation between the parties. It is issued when a person is subjected to stalking, sexual assault, harassment, or a threat of violence. Harassment is defined as unlawful violence, such as assault & battery or striking, a credible threat of violence, or a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person, that severely alarms, annoys, or harasses the other person and serves no legitimate purpose. This type of restraining order is usually issued between neighbors, acquaintances, or strangers. Some scenarios considered harassment by the court include:
    • Repeatedly calling, texting, or emailing the victim's home or their place of employment;
    • Videotaping the victim's movements in his or her home;
    • Repeatedly following the victim about in a public place or places;
    • Repeatedly keeping the victim under surveillance by remaining present outside their home, school, place of employment, or vehicle.
  • Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse – An Elder or Dependent Adult may request a restraining order to seek protection against abuse. An Elder is defined as anyone 65 years or older and a Dependent Adult is a person between the ages of 18 and 64 years of age that has disabilities that prevent that person from performing the normal activities in life. Abuse in California is defined as physical, financial, emotional, neglect or abandonment, or withholding by a caregiver the basic necessities of life that result in physical, mental, or emotional suffering. The restraining order may be filed for the Elder or Dependent Adult by a conservator or a trustee of the Elder or Dependent Adult, a guardian ad litem, or any person legally authorized to seek relief.

The TRO Process

For a person to obtain a TRO, that person must go to court and fill out the required paperwork explaining to the judge what occurred and why that person needs a restraining order. This person can ask the judge to issue a Temporary Restraining Order without notifying the other party. Most judges are inclined to issue the Temporary Restraining Order if enough facts demonstrate the need for a restraining order. The Temporary Restraining Order is valid and in effect until the actual court hearing, which is scheduled three weeks after issuing the TRO. The person obtaining the TRO must have the court papers and TRO served on the other party within five days of the scheduled court hearing. It is after personal service the TRO is in full force and effect.

At the final court hearing, both parties are in court and in the presence of the judge. The moving party (complainant / person filing the TRO) must present evidence and argue to the court he or she is in need of a permanent restraining order. To prevail and obtain the permanent Civil Harassment or Workplace restraining order, the moving party must convince the judge with "clear and convincing evidence" that there is a high probability the violence or harassment will continue and hence the need for the permanent restraining order. Permanent restraining orders can be issued for one to five years. For Domestic Violence & Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse Restraining Orders the moving party must convince the judge with a "preponderance of the evidence" that there is more than 50% probability that the violence or abuse will continue and hence the need for the permanent restraining order. If a permanent restraining order is issued, it will remain in full effect until the order expires. In California, violating a restraining order is a crime punishable with jail time.

Do Not Ignore the Temporary Restraining Order

One of the biggest mistakes people make is to ignore the TRO. You should read the entire TRO to ensure you do not violate any of the terms listed in the TRO. Violation of any of those terms could subject you to being arrested or criminally prosecuted. In addition, if you fail to respond to the TRO, you will forfeit your right to defend yourself. This could result in a permanent restraining order being issued against you for one to five years. This permanent restraining order could prohibit you from owning or possessing a firearm and restrict you from going to certain places and locations. Worst of all, the permanent restraining order will become part of you permanent record. If you are served with a TRO you should immediately consult with an experienced restraining order attorney from Stephen G. Rodriguez and Partners to learn about your rights, defenses and legal options.