A restraining order is a court-issued document aimed at protecting you from harassment or abuse from someone who is hurting you. It is a civil order that keeps the abuser from the scene where the said violence or harassment occurred, such as your home or place of work. Getting a restraining order has legal consequences, but it doesn't give the abuser a criminal record.
Anyone who has been a victim of domestic abuse can seek a protective/restraining order from the court to bar their partner or other household members from harming them for a specified duration. People going through divorce marked with hostility can also seek a restraining order to prevent abuse or harassment from their former spouse. San Diego Restraining Order Attorney is highly experienced in dealing with cases where restraining orders are necessary. We serve clients in San Diego who need protection orders for one reason or another, as we will discuss further in this blog.
Types of Restraining Orders
Before we delve into the reasons why one would seek a protective order, here are the main kinds of restraining orders you can get in California.
- Domestic violence restraining order – this decree is obtained to safeguard someone who has been assaulted physically or emotionally by their relationship partner. Please note, this list also extends to close familial relationships like grandparents, siblings, and in-laws.
- Civil harassment restraining order – this protective order is granted to bar other people from harassing you, but those who are not intimate partners. These could be colleagues, neighbors, or other persons with whom you are not particularly close. Nonetheless, abuse from members of the extended family falls under civil harassment provided such persons are not listed under domestic violence.
- Workplace violence restraining orders – an employer requests this decree on the behest of staff to keep them from violence or threats from other coworkers within the premises.
- Elder or dependent adult abuse restraining order – this decree protects the wellbeing of people aged 65 and above and people between 18 and 64 who have various disabilities. This document safeguards them from all forms of abuse, including financial abuse and neglect.
How Long Do Restraining Orders Last?
The duration of the protective order depends on the situation at hand. You need a qualified attorney to advise you on the kind of order you need to request a San Diego courthouse, as follows:
Emergency Protective Order (EPO) – only members of law enforcement can petition for an EPO, and they do this by calling a judge at whatever time of day or night. If a police officer answers a distress call due to severe violence or a substantial threat, they can request a judge for an emergency protective order. For civil harassment, you can only get an EPO if the person is stalking you, and you contact the authorities.
The emergency protective order comes into effect immediately and can go up to seven days. If you live together, the court may order the perpetrator to vacate and stay away for as long as the order is active. Once they are removed from your life, your lawyer will help you file for a temporary restraining order.
Temporary Restraining Orders (TRO) – these are easy to obtain, and you can get one independently or ask for assistance from the local police. Temporary restraining orders typically stay effective for five to seven days, but you are free to get an extension should the situation demand. San Diego Restraining Order Attorney is available to assist you with petitioning the court for a restraining order and making it permanent if necessary to take such extreme measures.
Permanent Restraining Orders (PRO) – these orders usually last for five years, and there is room to extend the mandate of protection if you can present justification in court. An experienced attorney understands the burden of proof in these scenarios and will help you demonstrate evidence in court. In the end, you want to guarantee safety for you and your children safe even when the relationship ends.
Criminal Protective Order (CPO) – in case of severe harassment or many violent incidents, the district attorney will level criminal charges against the perpetrator, and this launches a criminal court case. The criminal court may issue a "stay-away" order against the defendant, and this lasts for the duration of the criminal case. If the accused admits to the charges or is found guilty, the protective order remains active for three years after the trial finishes.
Reasons for Seeking a Restraining Order
- Domestic Abuse
California Penal Code 13700 defines domestic violence as actions, attempts, or threats to cause bodily harm between adults or minors who are currently or formerly in a relationship. A relationship could be cohabitation, marriage, courtship, engagement, or people who share one or more children. Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) happens in many ways, such as stalking, battery, rape, emotional abuse, intimidation, and other abusive actions.
It is not atypical to find people in seemingly happy marriages or romantic relationships engaging in domestic violence from time to time. One partner may be drinking excessively and unleashing a tirade of insults on their partner upon coming home then apologizing when they are sober. Abusive partners may haul objects at their children or spouse and even physically assault them to the extent of breaking bones or other bodily harm.
Domestic abuse is so pervasive in California that in 2017, the frequency of calls reporting domestic altercations stood at a rate of 6.4 calls per 1,000 people aged between 18 and 69. Do not allow this pattern of abuse to progress, report these incidents to the local police, and obtain a restraining order against the abuser.
- Procedure in Divorce
Going through a divorce is not easy, even when both parties agree to keep things civil. There are many things to deliberate upon, and tensions may run high, thus exposing you to unbecoming behavior from your spouse. They may be verbally abusive, threatening to ruin your business, taint your image in social circles, or make it impossible to live in the same household before the marriage disillusionment is granted.
Obtaining a protective order against is necessary for your peace of mind and also to avoid sideshows that will complicate the divorce process. Please ensure you serve the accused rightly for this court order to be deemed valid. The request may be incorporated in the divorce papers, or it may remain independent from the marriage dissolving process.
- Psychological Abuse
Estranged spouses are notorious for wanting to keep harming their former partners, thus making it harder to move on with life. They could be using the children to paint you as an unfit parent, or they could make blatant threats to harm you. San Diego Restraining Order Attorney has encountered many cases where custody battles during after divorce turn ugly. The noncustodial parent may stalk the other parent at work, neighborhood park, grocery store, etc. to make them afraid for their safety.
If you are suffering through unrelenting psychological abuse from your former lover or marital partner, getting a protective order against them is the best recourse. This order may not prevent them from unbecoming behavior – at least not right away – but it will help with the criminal charges that may ensue.
- Depleting Marital Assets
If you are going through a separation before launching into the divorce process, you may be concerned that your spouse is moving or hiding assets to keep you from getting your fair share. It could be protecting real estate properties through shell companies, moving savings from joint accounts to offshore banks, etc. These tactics are common in acrimonious divorces where parties don't seem to agree on the division of assets accrued inside marriage.
California is a community property state, which means separating couples are entitled to half of the marital assets, which includes debt, money, and properties. If you suspect something is amiss, you can get a court order barring further action from your partner, so they don't hide assets. Breadwinning partners often result in unsavory methods to mislead the other spouse about the debt to asset ratio and sometimes enlist banks to do so. You can get a restraining order against the bank or other entity that is helping them dispose of marital assets.
What is the Process of Getting a Restraining Order?
Protective orders are legal documents, and for this reason, you have an imperative to follow due process when asking for them. Depending on the circumstances, you may be too flustered to know what steps must be observed, not to mention knowing which documents to bring to court. The clerk's office will advise on the paperwork needed, but they cannot help you fill them out to inform the court what you are seeking.
Making a harassment accusation is not an easy matter, so the court will demand to see tangible evidence. We shall help you arrange the evidence like text messages, packages delivered to your address, security footage, or evidence of threatening behavior that has transpired. Presenting this discovery is best left to the experts, so the defendant's attorney does not discredit you to have the case dismissed.
Our experts at San Diego Restraining Order Attorney understand how the legal system in California works and what errors to avoid. We shall help you outline the case details and zero in on a specific request, such as ordering your spouse to stop following you too and from work. Every case is different, and some things may change, but on the whole, we do the following:
- The plaintiff (you) seeking protection files the necessary form, usually called a petition at the local family court or district court
- The judge ponders on whether to pass the decree by or before the next business day
- The court clerk sets a date for arraignment
- Get a temporary restraining order until the hearing date
- Serve the defendant with papers for the protective order before the appearance
- You both attend the court hearing. If the accused refuses to attend, they relinquish the right to share their viewpoints, and the temporary order becomes ineffective at day's end.
- The judge may cancel or uphold the temporary restraining order to become a permanent restraining order valid for up to five years.
What Does a Restraining Order Accomplish?
Once you have a protective order in place, the accused cannot legally do the following:
- Contact you or any person residing in your household (including electronically)
- Get close to you or other members of the household, regardless of where you travel
- Come near your kids' school or your place of work
- Own or attempt to acquire a firearm
These restrictions have ramifications on the restrained person's life. For example, they cannot freely go anywhere they please as it could violate the court order. They must plan their movements carefully and have to give up certain things like watching the kids play at the community park. Their immigration status may be in jeopardy following a protective decree.
A restraining order must categorically mention the restrictions needed to keep you and other parties safe. For instance, getting a restraining order against your spouse with whom you have shared custody does not prevent them from seeing the kids. If they are potentially harming the kids, the restrictions must bar him or her from coming near your children.
If the recipient is responsible for paying the mortgage and other household bills, they must continue doing so promptly. Families with a single car owned jointly must determine who has the right to use the vehicle. These discussions are not secure, and negative feelings toward your ex-spouse may cloud your judgment. Our lawyers have spent tons of professional hours helping clients sort complicated matters when protective orders are at play, and we can help you too.
What Happens If Someone Violates a Restraining Order?
As you can see above, there are many reasons why someone can petition the court in San Diego for a protective order. Unfortunately, some recipients of these decrees are stubborn and refuse to follow the restrictions outlined therein. An abusive father may be ordered to stay away from their children but continue showing up at school for dance recitals or little league games. Their presence will unnerve an already frightened child, and they may be racked with anxiety.
Warring couples who are divorcing must divide assets accrued inside marriage. If one partner refuses to cooperate with the legal process, the other person may get shortchanged. Your partner could also use force to intimidate you, so you lift the protective order, which is also a violation in itself. Whatever the case may be, we can file a motion in court asking the judge to issue appropriate penalties to the perpetrator. California Penal Code 273.6 PC is a statute that criminalizes any violation of restraining orders.
More specifically, this law states "Any intentional and knowing violation of a protective order... is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment." Therefore, the court has the burden to prove the accused has indeed violated the terms of said protective order then mete out punishment.
These situations are tricky to navigate because the accused will mount a defense claiming they did not violate the protective order, or the violation was not deliberate. They could also challenge the legality of this decree, especially if it keeps them away from children or the family residence. San Diego Restraining Order Attorney is adept in handling violations of protective orders, and we will fight to ensure the law is upheld.
Penalties For Violating Restraining Orders
Contravening California Penal Code 273.6 PC attracts a host of sentences depending on many factors. Was the victim harmed? Is it the first violation? Responses to these questions will inform the court's decision when meting out punishment to the accused, as follows:
- Up to one year in the county jail for misdemeanor violation
- Up to three years in state prison for a felony violation
- The judge may also add the following penalties and assessments upon their discretion:
- Paying court fines
- Restitution to victims for any damage
- Mandatory counseling services
- Surrendering any weapons and not acquiring more when the order is active
Find a San Diego Restraining Order Attorney Near Me
Enduring harassment from your spouse, family member, neighbor, or other person is daunting. You feel afraid to leave or enter the house, run errands, and the dropped phone calls torment you. If someone has been threatening or assaulting you, the law permits you to hold them accountable. We at the San Diego Restraining Order Attorney shall not only help you obtain a protective order but also work with authorities to file criminal charges against the abuser.
Our clients understand the comfort of having someone else care about your wellbeing when all this cruelty is going on at home or another setting. If someone is harassing you in San Diego County, feel free to contact us at 619-728-6293 to stop this cycle of physical or psychological abuse before things escalate.