In a situation where domestic violence is suspected, a protective or restraining order (often referred to as an “order of protection” or an “injunction”) can be imposed by the courts. This type of order demands that an individual stop one or more undesired behaviors which are considered to be domestic abuse.
What Is Domestic Abuse?
Domestic abuse can take on many forms, including physical, emotional, mental and at times economic abuse (e.g. if a partner controls the finances or restricts the other partner’s access to communal assets). In California, domestic abuse can be defined as:
- Recklessly or intentionally causing or attempting to cause bodily injury
- Causing other individuals to feel reasonably afraid that they or a friend/family member are in danger of imminent bodily injury
- Sexual assault
Other common behaviors include:
- Physical assaults
- Unwanted phone calls or text messages
Who Is Often Accused of Domestic Abuse?
Those who are accused of committing domestic abuse are often:
- Current spouses
- Former spouses
- People who share children
- Common law couples
- Former common law couples
- People who are related by marriage or by blood
The majority of restraining orders are issued because of a situation where domestic abuse is claimed or if there is a conflict in an intimate or family relationship. But courts may also issue a restraining order for civil matters, such as if an individual has prohibited a person from contacting a non-family member or intimate partner, or if an individual has prohibited someone from going to a certain professional office or business.
What You Should Do If a Restraining Order Is Filed Against You
There are specific steps which everyone must take if you suspect someone will file a restraining order or if one has already been filed against you.
- Obey the temporary restraining order: Follow all of the rules which are contained within the order, such as not having contact of any kind with the petitioner (even if you feel that their claims are unfounded). Contact an attorney immediately so that you are informed of your rights and the legal steps you must take
- Gather physical evidence: Gather evidence proving your innocence or evidence which you feel will help your defense in court (such as photos or videos)
- Gather documentation: Assemble any documents or records which are relevant to the case, including emails, text messages, GPS records, computer records and other records which may prove where you were at the time of an incident or which may put the petitioner’s claims into question. Print them out so that you have a hard copy
- Locate witnesses: If there are any possible witnesses who were present or overheard a conversation which is relevant to your case, obtain their contact information
Your Rights When a Restraining Order Is Issued
Sometimes people who are issued a restraining order downplay the severity because they are not under arrest, they do not need to pay a fine, and they assume no action needs to be taken on their part (apart from eliminating contact with the person or persons whom the order protects). But if you are the subject of a restraining order, it is important that you handle the situation efficiently and with proper legal guidance.
Some prefer to sit and wait to see what happens with their case, but it is important to understand that you can be a proactive participant in ensuring that the protective or restraining order is reduced or thrown out. You are entitled to:
- Be notified of the request
- To attend a court hearing
- To defend yourself
- To be represented by an attorney
In restraining order proceedings, it is important to note that the accused are not entitled to a court-appointed attorney and must locate an expert defense attorney for further guidance and legal assistance.
How Quickly Can a Restraining Order Be Issued?
Here in California, a restraining or protective order can be issued in a matter of days, making it all the more important that those who are issued, or who suspect they will be issued, a restraining order begin to investigate their defense attorney options.
A temporary restraining order can quickly be followed by a hearing on a permanent order which can affect your relationship with your children, your employment, and other people you care about. It is imperative that you have an experienced family law defense attorney at your side such as one of our attorneys at Kestenbaum Law Group.
Our attorneys at the Kestenbaum law firm pride ourselves on providing meticulous and considerate guidance which has led to numerous positive outcomes for restraining order recipients. We are available day and night and can be reached online or by phone at (818) 616-4312.