Understanding Restraining Order Violations

Because domestic violence has become a top focus for law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles County and throughout California, there are a number of laws, offenses, and legal instruments that can be involved in a domestic violence case. Among these are restraining orders, and under California law there are four general types of orders:

  • Civil Harassment Order – These are the most common type of restraining order used in Los Angeles, and they are typically involved in domestic violence cases involving the use of physical force (battery), threatening behavior (criminal threats), and a verifiable pattern of actions that intimidate or harass another (stalking).
  • Domestic Violence Restraining Order – these are issuef in cases where there is evidence of physical force, threatened force, or abuse between individuals involved in a domestic relationship, such as spouses, those involved or once involved in romantic relationships, relatives and cohabitants. They are often connected to domestic violence crimes such as corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant and domestic battery.
  • Elder Abuse / Dependent Adult Restraining Order – Unlike civil harassment orders, elder abuse / dependent adult restraining orders are intended to protect vulnerable individuals from being abused financially or physically, or neglected.
  • Workplace Violence Restraining Order – These are issued only when employers submit requests to the court on behalf of employees who have been the victim of physical or threatened violence, stalking, or harassment.

Under California law (PC 273.6), violating any restraining order, also referred to as a protective order, is a crime in and of itself. Violations can occur in many ways, and typically involved intentional acts of disobeying the terms and conditions of a specific order, such as avoiding contact, using force against the victim, possessing a firearm, or staying a certain distance away from homes or places of work.

Penalties for violating a protective order can vary, especially if a person has prior offenses or habitually violates court orders. Generally, punishment can include fines, restitution to victims or organizations that advocate for violence victims, court-ordered counseling or classes, and up to 1 year in jail. Multiple offenders face much more severe penalties, including felony charges and lengthier terms of imprisonment. Possessing a firearm is also a violation of a protective order, and can result in stiff penalties, including fines and imprisonment.

Because there are serious penalties attached to violating a restraining order, it is always advised to understand and obey the terms of your order. However, there are many situations in which individuals were not aware of orders or did not intend to violate them. Our legal team can evaluate the facts of your particular case and order to determine how you may be able to defend against any charges, and if necessary, work toward modifying or lifting the order.

For questions about your case and how our award-winning lawyers can help you, contact Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP for a FREE consultation today.