A domestic violence allegation in the state of California is a serious matter. The penalties that may be enforced if you're convicted of behaving violently or abusively toward your spouse or partner may change your life forever. If you face a domestic violence-related charge, you have the right to a fair trial and a robust defense. After all, it's not uncommon for feelings of frustration, anger, and embarrassment to be taken out of context and interpreted as domestic violence. In these situations, the help of an attorney may be valuable.
After a domestic dispute, the threatened party might file a court-issued restraining order against the alleged abuser, designed to prevent further harassment, abuse, stalking, threats, or any other form of domestic violence. It's important to understand what this means under California law, how it may directly affect you, and how to defend against the charges brought against you.
What Is a Domestic Violence Restraining Order?
In the California legal system, a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO) is issued by a non-criminal court and serves to safeguard the protected person from the alleged abuser. DVROs are initially temporary and last for 15–21 days but may extend for up to five years at a court hearing.
Abuse is defined by the state of California as:
“…intentionally or recklessly causing or attempting to cause bodily injury, or placing another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to himself or herself, or another.”
It's important to note that domestic violence doesn't just include hitting, kicking, shoving, pushing, or other forms of physical violence. It may also involve scaring or following the accuser, keeping them from entering or leaving their property, verbal abuse, and emotional trauma.
A domestic violence restraining order, per California law, may require the restrained person to adhere to the following guidelines:
- They cannot go near the accuser or anyone in the accuser's family
- They cannot try to contact the accuser or anyone else listed in the restraining order via phone calls, emails, social media, or any other potential form of communication
- They cannot own any firearms
- They can only see their children per the custody rules set by the court
- They must pay child and spousal or partner support
- They cannot interfere with the property they own jointly or individually
- They cannot make alterations to insurance policies
There are three other types of restraining orders that may or may not pertain to your case but are important to understand, nonetheless.
- A civil harassment restraining order (CHO) serves to prevent harassment by a certain individual who you feel may need to be restrained.
- An emergency protective order (EPO) is used mostly by law enforcement to protect individuals from imminent threat or harm.
- A criminal protective order (CPO), obtained through the district attorney's office, is meant to protect victims and witnesses.
Who Can Petition for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order?
For the abused or threatened party to petition a California court for a DVRO, their relationship with the accused must fall into the following categories:
- Former spouse
- Former cohabitant
- Person with whom the suspect has a child
- Person to whom the suspect is or was engaged
- Person that the suspect is or was dating
A cohabitant is more closely defined by the state as two unrelated adults living together for a substantial period of time, often specified by those having sexual relations, sharing income, and co-owning property.
What Happens After You're Charged with Domestic Violence and a Restraining Order is Filed Against You?
The accuser may initially file for a temporary restraining order (TRO) to protect them until the court hearing, though it's important to note that the judge may not necessarily grant all requested orders. If approved, however, the accuser must let you know either in writing or by phone. The TRO may last 21 days.
Following the issuance of the TRO, the court may determine whether or not to extend the restraining order after hearing evidence. It's vital that you seek help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights against what may be a complicated, confusing, and stressful legal process.
Contact an Expert California Domestic Violence Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one is facing a domestic violence charge, it's important that you speak with a trusted domestic violence defense attorney. The expert lawyers at the Aron Law Firm, led by William M. Aron, are here to protect your rights by investigating your case in detail and building a robust defense. Our legal team is well-versed in domestic violence defense and may help you avoid severe consequences.
Mr. Aron—who previously served as a Deputy District Attorney and has substantial experience with a broad variety of criminal cases—takes a client-centered approach and aims to make the legal process as painless as possible. To speak with a domestic violence defense attorney, schedule a free consultation by completing a contact form or call (805) 618-1768.