Restraining orders are issued in many domestic violence cases to protect the alleged victim from current or future harm. It does so by placing various restrictions on the person restrained, such as not contacting the alleged victim. If a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO) has been issued against you, you must follow the terms and conditions exactly for the period the order is in effect. Not complying with the DVRO is a crime. You could face jail time, fines, and other sanctions for violating the order.
What Is a DVRO and What Does It Do?
A DVRO is a court-issued document containing a list of things the person restrained by it can and cannot do. The purpose of the order is to protect someone from abuse or threatened abuse. A DVRO may be requested by an individual who claims that they have been harmed or may be harmed by a family or household member, such as a spouse or dating partner.
Types of restraints and limitations you might be subject to if named in a DVRO include:
- Not contacting the alleged victim
- Not possessing or purchasing a gun or ammunition
- Moving out of a house you share with the alleged victim
- Not going to the alleged victim’s work or home
- Being subject to child custody or visitation orders
- Paying spousal support
The judge may order any additional conditions they believe are necessary to protect the alleged victim from abuse. You will know the restraints placed upon you after a hearing. If the judge rules in favor of the alleged victim at the hearing, you will get a signed copy of the order with the terms listed.
You must abide by the terms of your DVRO for the duration it’s in effect. How long it lasts depends on your case.
- An emergency protective order is valid for up to 7 days
- A temporary restraining order is valid for up to 25 days
- A permanent restraining order is valid for up to 5 years
What Are the Consequences for Violating a Restraining Order?
You must be very careful during the time your DVRO is in effect. Any behavior construed as a willful violation of the order can have serious consequences.
You Could be Arrested
If the alleged victim believes that you are not complying with the DVRO, they could call the police on you. The officer will review the details of the order, and if you are still present at the scene, they could arrest you.
You Could Be Charged with a Crime
If the prosecutor decides to pursue your case, to obtain a conviction, they must prove that:
- A valid DVRO was issued against you,
- You were aware that you were named in a DVRO,
- You were able to abide by the conditions of the DVRO, and
- You knowingly violated the terms of the DVRO.
In many cases, a first-time DVRO violation is a misdemeanor, punishable by:
- Up to 1 year in jail and/or
- Up to $1,000 in fines.
However, if you caused bodily injury to the alleged victim, the penalties could increase to:
- Between 30 days and 1 year in jail and/or
- Up to $2,000 in fines
A second or subsequent conviction for a DVRO violation involving an act or threat of violence occurring within 7 years of a previous conviction is a wobbler.
If found guilty, you could be sentenced to:
- Up to 1 year in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines (if charged as a misdemeanor) or
- Up to 3 years in prison and/or up to $10,000 in fines (if charged as a felony)
Sanctions can also include paying up to $5,000 to a battered women’s shelter and covering the costs of counseling or other expenses the alleged victim incurred because of your DVRO violation.
You May Be Found in Contempt of Court
The alleged victim may also initiate a contempt of court action against you. Contempt means that you have willfully disobeyed an order rendered by a court.
Each DVRO violation is punishable by 5 days in jail.
Speak with a Defense Attorney
Violating a DVRO is a serious matter. You face several consequences that could disrupt your life, but you can seek to minimize or avoid penalties by aggressively fighting your charge.
At Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP, our Los Angeles team helps those accused of misdemeanors or felonies pursue just outcomes. Schedule a consultation by calling us at (800) 462-7160 or submitting an online contact form.