California restraining orders and the criminal charges stemming from a conviction for a restraining order violation can have devastating consequences for defendants, possibly affecting their employment, professional licensing, reputation, custody rights and firearm ownership, among other aspects of their lives. If you have been served with a temporary restraining order in Los Angeles, it is important that you act as quickly as possible to prevent it from turning into a permanent restraining order, which could affect where you can live, how much time you can spend with your children and your ability to own a gun. If the restraining order includes a move-out order, you could even be forced to move out of your home. And if you violate any of the terms and conditions of such an order, you could face criminal penalties as well. Our restraining order defense lawyers at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles understand what a significant impact a restraining order can have on your life, and we know how to fight for your rights.
Affordable Restraining Order Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
The consequences of a California restraining order and the limitations such an order places on your life can be devastating. Whether you believe a restraining order has been unfairly issued against you, or you have been falsely accused of violating a protective order in Los Angeles, it is imperative that you contact an aggressive criminal defense attorney to ensure that you understand the terms and conditions of the restraining order, and to have someone who can advocate on your behalf in court if you are facing criminal charges for a restraining order violation. With the help of our experienced and resourceful criminal defense attorneys, you can significantly improve your chances of reaching a favorable conclusion to your case. In some cases, your Los Angeles criminal defense attorney may even be able to help minimize the penalties associated with a restraining order violation, or have the order removed altogether if it was issued unfairly or unlawfully.
Generally speaking, a restraining order is a protective order issued by the court to prohibit an individual from contacting or approaching a specified person or persons. Restraining orders are most commonly filed in Los Angeles domestic violence cases that involve stalking, harassment, sexual assault or other potentially harmful behavior or acts, but there are four main types of restraining orders in California, including:
- Civil harassment restraining order – A court order issued to protect a person or persons from stalking, violence, serious harassment, or threats of violence.
- Domestic violence restraining order – A court order issued to protect a person or persons from abuse or threats of abuse from a spouse, former spouse, domestic partner, boyfriend, girlfriend or co-habitant.
- Elder or dependent adult restraining order – A court order issued to protect a person who is 65 or older, or a person who has a physical or mental disability, from abuse or neglect.
- Workplace restraining order – A court order filed by an employer to protect an employee or employees from violence or the threat of violence.
If a temporary restraining order becomes a permanent order, you could risk losing some important rights, including your right to own a gun, spend time with your children and choose where you live, which is why it is imperative to retain a knowledgeable lawyer.
Conviction for Restraining Order Violation Penal Code § 273.6
If you have been served with a restraining order in Los Angeles and you are accused of violating that order, either by ignoring a no-contact order or by injuring the protected individual, you could face significant criminal penalties. However, just because you have been accused of violating a restraining order does not mean you will be convicted of the crime. In order to convict you of the criminal offense of violating your restraining order, the prosecutor assigned to your case must prove the following elements of the crime under California Penal Code § 273.6 PC:
- The restraining order was properly issued by the judge;
- You were aware of and understood the terms and conditions of the restraining order;
- You were reasonably able to follow the restraining order, meaning it was written in a clear and logical manner without any unjust or prejudicial restrictions on your rights and liberties; and
- You willfully and intentionally violated the order.
Keep in mind that if your violation of the restraining order was an accident, you cannot be found guilty of the criminal offense under California law.
How is a TRO Different from a Permanent Restraining Order?
In addition to the different types of restraining orders, there are also three different levels of protection established by a California restraining order:
- Emergency Protective Order – If a person is in the process of getting a permanent restraining order and needs protection in the meantime, say because of a domestic dispute issue, he or she may ask the court to issue an emergency protective order.
- Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) – In a domestic violence case, the prosecution may ask the court for a temporary restraining order, which will remain in place until the conclusion of the case.
- Permanent Restraining Order – When a temporary restraining order runs out, the court can issue a permanent restraining order, which typically lasts up to five years.
Temporary restraining orders require very little evidence, which means it is difficult to prevent one from being filed against you. However, with the help of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney, you can prevent a temporary restraining order from becoming permanent and affecting the rest of your life.
Penalties for Violating a Restraining Order
Restraining orders themselves do not constitute a criminal charge, but if you violate a protective order, you could face significant criminal penalties. In Los Angeles, violating a restraining order is a “wobbler” offense under California Penal Code § 273.6 PC, which means it can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on your criminal history and whether it is a first or subsequent violation of the order.
In most cases, a restraining order violation is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by up to one year in county jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines, plus other potential penalties, such as mandatory counseling, restitution to the victim and mandatory payments to a battered women’s shelter. If the individual protected by the order was injured as a result of the violation, or if you have a prior conviction for violating a restraining order, the crime is more likely to be charged as a felony offense, punishable by a statutory minimum of 30 days in jail and $2,000 in fines.
If you violate a California restraining order two or more times within a seven-month period, and the violation involves a violent act or a threat of violence, the criminal offense is a wobbler that could be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, a choice that is up to the prosecutor. As a misdemeanor, this crime carries a potential penalty of up to one year in county jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines, while a felony conviction could result in a sentence of probation and up to one year in county jail, or 16 months, two or three years in state prison, and a maximum fine of $10,000.
If you have a restraining order against you, California law prohibits you from owning, purchasing or possessing a firearm, which means you will be required to either surrender any firearms you currently own to law enforcement or opt to sell them to a licensed gun dealer. Violating the firearms restriction in your domestic violence restraining order by knowingly owning or possessing a firearm during this time is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by up to one year in county jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines. Purchasing, receiving, or attempting to purchase or receive a firearm during this time is a wobbler, which is punishable in the same manner for a misdemeanor offense. As a felony, this crime could result in enhanced penalties possibly including a three-year sentence in state prison and as much as $1,000 in fines.
Defenses to Restraining Order Violation Charges
If you have been accused of violating a California restraining order, you could face significant criminal penalties in addition to a loss of certain rights. Fortunately, there are a number of defenses that can be used to fight restraining order violation charges in court. The following are some defenses an experienced criminal defense attorney can present on your behalf, to excuse, explain or justify your alleged criminal behavior:
- The restraining order violation was unintentional
- You did not know there was a restraining order against you
- The restraining order was not issued properly, or it was issued illegally
- You were falsely accused of violating the restraining order
- You were physically unable to comply with the protective order
Hiring an Experienced Restraining Order Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
California has strict laws in place regarding domestic violence and other threatening or violent behavior perpetrated against others, and the result is positive when restraining orders work like they are supposed to and help keep people safe. However, these laws can be damaging to those falsely accused of domestic violence or of violating a domestic violence restraining order, and can cause innocent people to be treated like criminals. If you believe a California restraining order has been unfairly issued against you, your first course of action should be to consult a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney with experiencing defending clients against temporary and permanent restraining orders in Los Angeles. Our legal team at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles understands the adverse effect protective orders can have on our clients’ lives, and we strive to minimize the consequences of these restraining orders or of the charges stemming from a restraining order violation.