Restraining orders in the state of California are available for people that are facing harassment, stalking, and threats from their neighbors, an ex-partner or a co-worker. A person can also obtain a restraining order for a member of their family who is going through the same ordeal. At Leah Legal, we deal with many cases of restraining orders as a way to help our clients stay safe. Many people know why they need a restraining order but are unaware of the process involved in obtaining one.
If, therefore, you are in Los Angeles, and you are seeking a restraining order against your tormentor, get in touch with us. We not only help you get one but also advice you on the right restraining order to apply for as well as take you through the process.
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California Restraining Orders
Most states in the United States offer protective orders to keep people who are facing threats of bodily injury and emotional abuse from others. In most cases, the court issues restraining orders in cases involving domestic violence. When a court issues out such a rule, the abusive person is not allowed to come within a stated distance of the protected person for a given period. In the state of California, restraining orders are prevalent and can be in place for a period of up to three years. In some cases, they could be made permanent.
If a person is in any danger of bodily injury or is undergoing emotional abuse, a court order can be issued out. It will protect that person and their immediate family members that live with them. Sometimes the court can issue out a directive to protect family members who live at a reasonably close distance from you. The person against whom the restraining order is issued is expected to follow the requirements of the law. If not, you are allowed to call the police on them. The restrained person can, after that, be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor, a felony or contempt of court.
There are three code sections under California laws through which issuance of restraining orders is done. These are:
Chapter 6250 of California Family Laws
It is the law through which an emergency restraining order can be issued out in the state. The rule is, however, only issued under the following grounds:
- When there is a reasonable belief that there is a person who is in the present and immediate threat of domestic violence. Its basis could be on the person's claim of recent abuse of threat of harm by that person against whom they have sought the order
- When a minor is in the present and immediate danger of harm by a family member. This too will be based on a claim of a recent instance of threat or harm or abuse by the said family member.
- When a minor is in the present and immediate danger of getting abducted by their parent or a relative. The basis of this could be on a rational belief that the person has the intent to kidnap or run away with the minor. It could also be founded on a claim of recent threat of abduction of the child by the said person
- When a dependent adult or an elder is in the present and immediate risk of abuse as provided under Section 15610.07 of California Welfare and Institutions Law. Its basis could be on a recent event of mistreatment or risk of harm by the person whom the restraining order is obtained. Note that one cannot request for an emergency restraining order based only on allegations of financial abuse of a dependent adult.
Section 6320 of California Family Laws
This section of the law provides reasonable grounds for a person to get a restraining order in the state. These grounds include the danger of:
- Sexual assaults
- Impersonation as provided under Section 528.5 of the State Penal Code
- False personation as provided under Section 529 of the State Penal Code
- Telephoning and making annoying telephone calls as described in Section 653m
- Property destruction
- Direct or indirect contact by email or otherwise
- Disturbance of peace
Under this section of the law, the court could also include an order to grant the petitioner exclusive custody and care of an animal or child and order the defendant to stay away from the animal or child
Section 273.6 of California Penal Code
This section of law provides details about the violation of restraining orders. It makes it illegal for any person to intentionally and knowingly violate a protective order. Violation of any restraining order is a misdemeanor offense in the state that could be punished by a fine of not more than $1000, or imprisonment for up to one year in county jail.
Any violation of a restraining order that results in physical injury, the offender will be punished by a fine of up to $2000, imprisonment for between 30 days and one year or both the fine and incarceration.
Types of California Restraining Orders
A restraining/protective order is simply a legal way of keeping a dangerous person far from you and your family. There are mainly three types of California restraining orders:
Emergency Protective Orders
As mentioned above, an EPO is given according to Chapter 6250 of the California Family Code. The order gives a law enforcement officer power to request an emergency protective order if that officer has sufficient cause to accept as true that a person in need of court protection is at risk of immediate danger from the defendant. Note that, only a police officer can petition the court for an EPO, and this is done on behalf of a person that is under threat. California judges are expected to operate round the clock to issue out EPOs when needed.
After issuance of an EPO, the order is effective immediately and will only be enforceable for a week. If the abuser lived in the home of the person under threat, the judge might order the person to leave that home for the length of time the order will last.
The primary purpose of EPOs is to protect an abused person at the time they are applying for a temporary for a permanent restraining order. In the case of civil harassment, EPOs can only apply if the defendant is stalking the petitioner.
The process of getting an emergency restraining order is easy:
- Go to the police station- before that, ensure that your children or other family members that are under threat feel safe and are in a safe place. If your safety is under immediate threat, consider calling the police rather than trying to get to the police station. A police officer will complete the necessary paperwork, present it to a judge who will issue out an EPO. You will have to give a detailed account of the threat presented to get the EPO.
- Once you have received the order, go through it, and ensure that its details are exactly as you had provided. Your names and those of the offender must appear correctly. Ensure that your addresses are well written too. If you had forgotten something, tell it to the officer for him/her to include it to the report.
- When the EPO is ready, have it served to the person for whom it has been acquired. Note that you cannot renew this order. If therefore, you do not go to court by the time the order expires, you will remain unprotected until you get a temporary or permanent order prepared.
Temporary Restraining Orders
TROs are short-term orders too, whose enforcement lasts for between 20 and 25 days. They are issued by a judge who firmly believes that the petitioner is in direct danger and he/she needs protection before the hearing of his/her case in the court. For that reason, the determination of your case has to happen within the time of the restraining order. Otherwise, you will remain unprotected after that.
After the 25-day period ends, the judge will have to decide whether or not to issue the petitioner with a permanent protective order.
Unlike EPOs, the preparation of TROs is not by a police officer. For that reason, you need to have an attorney by your side for advice and guidance to ensure that the right documents are filed with the court on time. Through these forms, you will be petitioning the court to give you a protective order against a person that is threatening you.
The process of getting a TRO is not complicated too:
- Get the court forms. Fortunately, California courts give already prepared forms that a petitioner can use to appeal a judge to provide them with a temporary protective order. With that, you will not have to fill in complicated forms. The kinds of documents you need depend on the person that you want the judge to protect you against is and the context of harassment. You can, therefore, either go for a domestic violence protective order or a civil harassment protective order.
- Note that you can only fill out the domestic violence forms if you are in a kind of connection with that person whom you want the court to restrain. If the offender is unknown to you, then you will fill forms for civil harassment.
- Fill in the forms by providing your info, information about the person that should be restrained and your reasons to want the person restrained. Ensure that all the questions asked in the forms are answered, and the information given is accurate and correct.
- Have the forms reviewed by an experienced attorney. It will ensure that there are no mistakes that could cause the court to deny your petition. Make copies of those papers and send them to the court after signing. The court will keep the original copy, and the restrained person will also get some copies.
It is advisable to always have a copy of the restraining order with you wherever you go, and another copy at home or office. Copies can be issued out to security officers or school administrators in a case involving children.
Permanent Restraining Orders
A permanent protective order comes after the issuance of a temporary protective order. Before a PRO is released, there must be a court hearing. The decision of the court after the trial is what will determine whether or not the court will issue out a permanent order. If the court establishes that the petitioner is indeed in danger, he/she might get a permanent restraining order against the person threatening them.
Permanent court orders have different time-frames depending on the type of restraining order the person gets. In case it is a domestic violence order, for instance, it can last up to five years. A civil harassment order can go up to three years.
Unlike the two restraining orders above, a person cannot apply for a long-term restraining order; you only need to make the temporary order issued earlier before a permanent one. Again, the process is not complicated:
- Ensure that the temporary order is served to that person that you want the court to restrain. A California judge can only make an interim order permanent once the offender has received the documents by the closing date provided on the forms. The petitioner must use an adult who is not connected with the case at hand to serve the person. The documents must be hand-delivered to the offender. To make sure that no person is in danger of the person that needs restraining, you can always use an attorney.
- After the completion of the service, let the court know immediately. This should be done by the person who did the service as proof that they did it. It should have the details concerning the date the order was issued, the exact time and the method that was used. California court clerks have some of these forms that can quickly be filled and filed with the court. Again, copies of stamped proof of service will be needed.
- Gather evidence against the person that you want to be restrained. To make a temporary restraining order a permanent protective one, you must attend a hearing in court and provide your evidence before a judge. Any physical proof you might have against the person you want the court to restrain can significantly help your case.
- It is advisable to have several copies of the pieces of evidence too, and the original copies should be filed with the court. Some of the proof you might need are printed phone conversations, proof of property damage, police and medical reports, among others.
- The court will allow you to call in witnesses too.
- Once everything is organized, attend the hearing. The trial will be conducted in the court where you filed the forms and on the date and time that was listed on the same documents. Failing to attend the hearing will lead to an expiration of your temporary order, and this means that you will have to begin the process all over again.
Frequently Asked Questions about Restraining Orders
Who is eligible for a domestic violence protective order?
Any person that is facing any form of domestic violence is allowed to file for a domestic violence protective order. Such people who can commit domestic violence are:
- A spouse or an ex-spouse
- A person they are dating or one they used to date. This includes an ex-partner
- The father or mother of their child/children
- Any other person they are related to by blood, adoption, or marriage. This includes their father, mother, brother, sister, child, grandparent or an in-law
- A person they are or were cohabiting with
In the case of a minor below the age of 12, they can file a restraining order with the help of their parents or guardian.
How much does a restraining order cost?
Filing for a domestic violence protective order is free in the state of California. You may also not need the help of an attorney. However, if the person for whom the order is obtained has a lawyer, you definitely need one. In that case, only the legal fee for your attorney will apply.
Working with a lawyer is advisable as it ensures that all the required documents are correctly filled and filed with the court before the deadline. An attorney will also ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process.
Civil harassment restraining orders are charged though, depending on the nature of your case.
Find a Restraining Order Attorney Near Me
Many things are involved when a person is applying for a restraining order to protect themselves, a member of their family, or their family. Getting legal help is advisable. It ensures that you have the right papers, you have filled in the documents correctly, and you have enough evidence to obtain the order. It also makes sure that you are following the right procedure in getting the order. Legal representation will be needed too, in case you need a permanent restraining order. At Leah Legal, we have a team of competent attorneys who can help you with any restraining order you need in Los Angeles. Call us at 818-484-1100 and let us take you through the process.