Domestic Abuse – Protective And Restraining Orders

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:

  • Harassment
  • Stalking
  • Threats
  • 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
  • Children
  • Boyfriends/girlfriends/fiances

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