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What is the Difference Between a Protective Order and a Restraining Order in California?

protection from abuse

If you have been harmed through domestic violence, which can be physical, emotional, financial, and other types of abuse, you might be considering how the court can help protect you from further harm. Should you get a protective order or a restraining order? Does California make an important distinction between the two?

Overall, no, California does not make an important or official distinction between protective orders and restraining orders. The two terms are often used interchangeably in legal contexts. If you were to ask the court or a law enforcement officer for either a restraining order or a protective order, you would be understood, even if you were technically using the wrong term. In fact, both restraining orders and protective orders can be called domestic violence restraining orders (DVROs) if they are requested specifically due to acts of domestic violence.

What Types of Restraining Orders are in California?

Technically, California law has two types of “restraining orders” by name: temporary and permanent. Again, though, there’s no fault or flaw in calling a temporary restraining order a ‘temporary protective order’ instead.

Important details of both types of restraining orders are:

  • Temporary restraining order (TRO): A victim of domestic violence can file paperwork with the court to request a temporary restraining order against the abuser. The judge will hear an argument from the person petitioning for the TRO but not from the person who could be restrained by it. If the judge approves the TRO, it will typically last up to 25 days or until it is replaced by a permanent restraining order.
  • Permanent restraining order: If a victim of domestic violence wants a permanent restraining order issued against the abuser, a court hearing must be attended, which will give both parties a chance to argue before the judge. Depending on the outcome of the hearing, a permanent restraining order could be granted for up to 5 years. When it is soon to expire, another hearing can be scheduled to see if it should be reinstated for another 5 years.

What is an Emergency Protective Order?

Just as California technically has restraining orders, it also technically has one type of protective order: the emergency protective order (EPO). When a police officer responds to a domestic violence call, they can call a 24-hour hotline to speak to a judge and request an emergency protective order to keep the two parties separated for the time being. If the judge agrees that the EPO is necessary, it will be issued and enforceable immediately. EPOs only last 7 days, though, and can be replaced with a temporary or permanent restraining order when they are set to expire.

Abilities of All California Restraining/Protective Orders

Whether you call it a restraining order, protective order, or domestic violence restraining order, such an order is designed to help keep an abuser away from you and your family.

A typical restraining order or protective order in California can require the restrained person to:

  • Stop contacting you
  • Stay away from your home
  • Stay away from your child’s school
  • Move out of your shared residence
  • Surrender any owned firearms to the authorities
  • Complete a batterer’s intervention program

If someone is restrained by a protective order and violates its terms, it can be seen as a criminal violation. The person may be arrested, charged, prosecuted, and convicted of violating a court order and possibly putting the other party in danger.

Need a Protective Order? Call Our Lawyers

If you need a protective order or restraining order to separate you from an abuser, Gill Law Group, PC can help you. We help clients in Orange County, California, understand their rights and options in a variety of family law cases, including those involving domestic violence. Call (949) 681-9952 now or contact us online if you have any questions and want to schedule an initial consultation with our firm.