What Happens If You Violate a Restraining Order in California?

What happens if you violate a restraining order in California? Find out here from the Law Office of Valery Nechay.

What Happens If You Violate a Restraining Order in California?


You may feel that you were acting within your rights, but what happens if you violate a restraining order in California? Under California Penal Code 166(a)( 4 ), violating a protective order is seen as contempt of court and can be prosecuted under Penal Code 273.6. It may result in criminal charges and a mark on your record.

A qualified criminal defense attorney may be able to raise a number of defenses to challenge a violation. If you have been accused of violating a restraining order in California, you should seek the services of a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney. Located in San Francisco, the Law Office of Valery Nechay will answer every question you ask and provide valuable information before your court hearing.

What Is a Restraining Order in California?


There are many reasons the court may issue a restraining order in California. A restraining order generally provides a buffer that protects the petitioner from unwanted contact from someone they feel threatened or harassed by. This often prohibits the following:

  • Messages via email, text, or social networking sites
  • Messages passed through another person
  • Telephone calls

A Judge may provide a civil harassment or domestic violence restraining order in California for various civil or criminal matters, including domestic abuse, physical abuse, and stalking.


How Are Restraining Orders Issued?

According to California law, when an individual asks for a civil restraining order or an order of protection against another person, they must pay a filing fee to file a copy of the forms with the court clerk.

After reviewing the information, the court decides whether or not to grant it. If it is deemed necessary, the judge will set a date and time for a hearing, after which he or she will issue a restraining order to be delivered to the respondent by a process server or a law enforcement officer. They can not serve them via USPS.

What Happens If a Restraining Order Is Not Served?


You may wonder what happens if a restraining order is not served. The purpose of “serving” somebody with protective order documents is to inform them that a petition has been filed against them.

Usually, restraining order forms contain the following:

  • The hearing’s date and time
  • The action requested
  • Supporting documentation provided to the court by the petitioner

Upon being served, the responding party has around 10 to 20 days to get legal help with their case and officially respond to the order before the hearing.

Even though the case might require civil litigation unless the accused person is adequately informed of the hearing, the judge can not issue a permanent protective order.


If I Have a Restraining Order Against Someone, Can I Contact Them?

There may be circumstances or emergencies even where you may want to know, “If I have a restraining order against someone, can I contact them?” If you are restricted from contacting the victim, try to follow the order’s terms, even if it is the victim who is calling you.

A restraining order is targeted at limiting your conduct, not the victim’s conduct. Therefore, under section 273.6 PC, only you can be found guilty of breaking its terms.

If the victim wants to eliminate the limiting order, they need to get in touch with the court and demand that the order be removed. The restrained should never speak to or interact with the supposed victim. Contact a restraining order attorney for more information.

How Does a Restraining Order Work?


How a restraining order works depends on what type of restraining order it is and why it was issued.

There are several reasons that someone would wish for another person to remain a certain distance from them or request they stay away altogether. A few of these types of restraining orders include:

  • Civil harassment restraining orders
  • Criminal protective orders
  • Domestic violence restraining orders
  • Elder or dependent adult restraining orders
  • Personal conduct orders
  • Violence restraining orders
  • Workplace violence restraining orders

Criminal Protective Orders (CPOs) might be asked for by the prosecuting lawyer to protect victims or witnesses of illegal activities. The judge has the right to approve or reject the orders, which are often released at the time of the offender’s arraignment.


Restraining Order Classifications

According to California law, there are several classifications of restraining orders, which include:

  • Emergency protective order
  • Permanent restraining order
  • Temporary restraining order

Although having a protective order issued may not make you entirely safe, it will strengthen the penalties if a restrained abuser comes within a certain distance of a protected person and their personal property.


Emergency Protective Order

An Emergency Protective Order (EPO) is issued to provide limited or short-term protection to the victim while pursuing a Permanent Restraining Order. This type of order is frequently used for domestic violence cases. Normally, a law enforcement officer who responds to the incident scene will ask for an EPO. This protective order merely lasts for one week but can be changed to one of the other, more long-term orders after its conclusion.


Permanent Restraining Order

A Permanent Restraining Order (PRO) limits the restrained from making any contact with the victim for up to five years. A PRO is a serious matter and can substantially restrict your liberty. Therefore, the court performs a hearing so both sides may present their cases. The judge will weigh the information and make a decision based upon the evidence.

A PRO benefits the protected rather than the restrained. If you have been issued papers restricting your rights to communicate or travel freely, you should seek the counsel of a skilled attorney to plan your defense.


Temporary Restraining Order

A person can request a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to be issued against their abuser in a criminal case. A TRO’s purpose is to supply short-term security to the victim until the hearing to assess the benefits of issuing a permanent protective order can be held. If approved, a TRO will be enforced until the conclusion of the criminal case.

Penalties for Violation of Restraining Orders


If you are found in violation of restraining orders in Los Angeles, it is helpful to understand that according to California law section 273.6 PC, this crime is considered a “wobbler” offense. Depending on the accused’s criminal history and the facts of the case, a “wobbler” can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor.

When a person violates protective orders to stay away from another person, they will be required to see the judge. Your lawyer can apprise you of your options and whether your charges could be reduced to a misdemeanor offense or dropped altogether.


Consequences for Violating Domestic Violence or Civil Harassment Restraining Orders

Violating a domestic violence or civil harassment restraining order can result in far-reaching consequences. If you are found guilty of a misdemeanor offense, you may receive up to a year of incarceration in the county jail and approximately $1,000 in fines.

If convicted of felony restraining order violation, you could be sentenced to between 16 months and three years in prison and fines of as much as $10,000. Whether or not you believe you deserve a restraining order or are guilty of violating one, you should immediately contact a qualified attorney to learn what defense options are available to you.


Retaining Legal Counsel Defense Strategies

Law enforcement takes threats of violence or assault from a restrained person very seriously, as it indicates immediate danger to the protected person who initially asked for help.

If you are deemed a credible threat of violence, or you violate the order after hearing the verdict, you must seek the service of a reputable law firm to defend your case. Whether it is a civil harassment restraining order or one protecting against domestic violence, the Law Office of Valery Nechay will aggressively dispute the claims that:

  1. A valid protective order existed.
  2. The restrained party knew of the order’s existence and its terms.
  3. The restrained party deliberately violated the order’s terms.

Suppose there is no proof of service, indicating you were unaware of the civil or domestic violence restraining order, or the prosecutor fails to prove any of the elements mentioned above. In that case, a skilled criminal defense lawyer will likely be able to have the case dismissed. You should request a consultation if you have been issued a protective order or suspect you will be. Call now.


If you are under investigation or charged with a crime, I will consult with you in person and at no charge to you.