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What is a restraining order & how does it work?

A restraining order—also known as an order of protection—is a court order that helps victims of harassment, stalking and/or abuse avoid further contact with the perpetrator. Essentially, it prohibits one person from contacting or coming near the person who has sought the order. In the state of California, there are four different kinds of restraining orders: emergency protective orders (EPO), domestic violence temporary restraining orders (TRO), criminal protective orders and civil harassment restraining orders.

Each of these orders can be used to keep the offender from:

  • Contacting the protected person(s) via telephone, email, text, etc.
  • Harassing, annoying, hitting, stalking or disturbing the protected person(s)
  • Coming within a certain distance of the protected person(s)

Types of Restraining Orders in California

As previously mentioned, the courts can issue several different types of restraining orders in California. While each one will essentially serve the same purpose, they may be ordered under different circumstances. For example, civil orders would be issued in civil court, whereas criminal orders would be issued in criminal court.

  • Emergency protective order (EPO): this type of criminal restraining order is issued by law enforcement. Emergency protective orders are only valid for five days, and are usually issued in domestic violence cases.
  • Temporary restraining order (TRO): this type of restraining order is issued by a civil court. Temporary restraining orders are only valid for three weeks, but can be converted into a permanent order that lasts up to three years.
  • Criminal protective order ("no contact" order): this type of criminal restraining order, which is also known as a “no contact” order, is issued by the District Attorney’s office in active criminal domestic violence cases.
  • Civil harassment restraining order (CHO): this type of restraining order is issued by a civil court. Civil harassment orders can be used to stop harassment or other threatening behavior by co-workers, neighbors, roommates, etc.

What happens if I violate a restraining order?

Once a restraining order has gone into effect (i.e. the person being restrained has been served with the order), the victim cannot be contacted in any way. If the perpetrator comes into contact with the victim or comes within a certain distance of them, their house, or their workplace, that person could face serious legal consequences. In most cases, the perpetrator will be held in contempt of court. This offense is typically charged as a misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in county jail.

How to Fight a Restraining Order in Court

In order for a restraining order to be valid, you must be officially notified that an order has been filed against you. This means that a formal copy of the restraining order notice must be delivered to you personally. This copy must be easy to read, and include Form DV-120—which is the “answer to temporary restraining order.” It is crucial that you file an answer with the court once you have been served. This will give you the chance to respond to the claims made against you at a formal hearing before a judge.

At this hearing, the judge will consider your answer when deciding whether cancel the restraining order or issue a permanent restraining order. Ensure the best possible outcome in your case by showing up to the hearing early and prepared—which includes having a Los Angeles criminal lawyer by your side. Failing to hire an attorney would give the alleged victim the advantage, especially if they have legal counsel. Involving a lawyer early on will increase your chances of resolving the situation favorably.

Your criminal defense attorney will be able to:

  • Draft and file appropriate court documents
  • Prepare you for testifying before the judge
  • Respond to the judge’s questions and demands
  • Prepare for any unusual circumstances

Enlist the Help of Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners Today

Were you recently served with a restraining order in California? If so, you should waste no time in contacting a knowledgeable Los Angeles criminal attorney. At Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners, we have more than 70 years of combined criminal defense experience. Let us put this experience to work for you by scheduling your free initial consultation today! Your future could be at stake, so there is no reason why you should wait any longer to get the help that you need.

Contact our office today at (213) 481-6811 to speak with a Los Angeles restraining order lawyer.

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