Pursuing Domestic Violence Restraining Orders In California
In California, if someone with whom you have a close relationship has abused or threatened to abuse you, you can seek a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO) to prevent future harm. DVROs can contain personal conduct, stay-away, and residence exclusion orders that place various restrictions and limitations on your abuser. For instance, they may be prohibited from contacting, calling, or harassing you. They could also be restrained from going to places where they know you, your relatives, or your children are likely to be. And they might also be directed to move out of your house, even if it’s a shared residence. Getting a California domestic violence restraining order can be complicated, as you must prove your case and follow certain court rules and procedures. At Gill Law Group, PC, we help victims of abuse in Orange County and the surrounding areas seek the protection they need. We provide individualized, one-on-one representation, and our founding attorney, Raja Gill, personally meets with every client we assist. Recognizing that this can be a challenging and emotional time for you, we will handle your case with sensitivity and care, protecting your best interests in this difficult matter.
What Is a DVRO in California?
Courts issue domestic violence restraining orders to protect those harmed or threatened to be harmed by a person they have a close relationship with. Persons in close relationships include:
- Former spouses
- Domestic partners
- Dating partners (or former dating partners)
- People with a child together
- People who currently live together or who have lived together previously
- Relatives by blood or marriage
After the domestic violence restraining order is granted, the person restrained by the order will be required to follow specific conditions. This stops them from committing any abusive or potentially harmful acts against the persons protected by the order, which can include you, your family, your children, or anyone you live with. In California, three types of domestic violence restraining orders are available:
Emergency Protective Orders (EPOs)
If an officer responding to a domestic violence call believes that you are in immediate danger of continued harm, they can call a judge to request an emergency protective order (EPO). EPO judges are available 24/7, which means an officer can ask for the order at any time, night or day. Once an EPO is granted, it takes effect right away. The order can direct the abuser to leave your home, stay away from you or other protected persons, and refrain from engaging in abusive conduct. EPOs last only 7 days. Their purpose is to allow DV victims time to seek a temporary restraining order.
Temporary Restraining Orders (TROs)
Unlike EPOs, temporary restraining orders (TROs) are sought by victims of domestic violence abuse, not police officers. To pursue a TRO, you must complete paperwork, telling the judge about your situation and why you feel that a domestic violence protective order is warranted. TROs are ex parte orders, meaning the abuser will not be present at a hearing and will have no input concerning whether the order should be issued. If the judge grants your request for a temporary restraining order, it will be valid for 20 to 25 days or until the hearing for a permanent order.
Permanent Restraining Order
A permanent restraining order can only be issued after you have attended a hearing to present your sides of the story. The judge will consider your testimony to determine if abuse has occurred and is likely to occur in the future. If the judge decides in your favor, they will grant your request for a permanent restraining order that may be valid for up to 5 years.
What Does a Restraining Order Do?
As mentioned earlier, a domestic violence restraining order offers protection for persons subject to abuse or threatened abuse by a person they’re in a close relationship with. Restraining orders contain directives by the court that the restrained person must follow. Some of the orders can include, but are not limited to:
- Not contacting any person protected by the order
- Staying away from the protected person’s home or their children’s school
- Moving out of a shared residence
- Relinquishing firearms
- Adhering to child custody and visitation orders
- Paying child support, spousal support, or partner support
- Not taking or harming the protected person’s pets
- Completing a batterers’ intervention program
After a DVRO is issued, the information will be input into a statewide database. This allows all law enforcement officers to access it. Your domestic violence restraining order will also be valid nationwide, protecting you even if you move out of state. If your abuser violates any of the conditions of the DVRO, they could face various consequences, including:
- An arrest,
- Criminal charges being filed against them,
- A fine, and/or
- Jail time.
What Are Valid Reasons for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order?
In California, you can seek a DVRO if:
- You are subject to abuse or threatened abuse and
- Your abuser is someone you’re in a close relationship with.
Abuse can take many forms. It does not only involve physical harm (California Family Code § 6203). Abuse can include:
- Sexual assault,
- Causing a person to fear that they or others are in danger of harm,
- Destroying personal property,
- Stalking, and
- Emotional or psychological abuse.
Is It Hard to Get a DVRO?
You must go through the appropriate channels to ask for a domestic violence restraining order in California. The court process for a DVRO includes:
- Filing court forms: You must tell the judge what type of protection you are asking for and why you are seeking it.
- Serving the abuser: Before a hearing can be held for a permanent protective order, your abuser must be “served” with a copy of the DVRO papers. This step involves a person 18 years of age or older, who will not be protected by the order, hand-delivering the documents. You can have a sheriff or process server handle this.
- Waiting for an answer: The potentially restrained person has a certain amount of time to respond to the domestic violence restraining order application. Filing an answer means that they intend to be present to give their side of the story at the hearing.
- Attend a hearing: You will be scheduled for a hearing where you and the abuser give statements as to whether the judge should grant the request for a DVRO. It is important that you show up for this proceeding. Failing to attend could result in the termination of your TPO, and you will have to start the process from the beginning. If your abuser does not show up, the judge can grant the domestic violence restraining order without their input.
The process to get a domestic violence restraining order is not particularly hard. However, when you are concerned about the safety of yourself and others, dealing with all the steps can be overwhelming. What can be difficult, though, is sharing your story in court and proving that you have suffered abuse, warranting a DVRO. At Gill Law Group, PC, our Orange County DVRO lawyers can stand by you and provide the support you need at every stage. We’ll also ensure that you have completed and filed the necessary paperwork. Our team can help build your case and prepare you for questions the judge or abuser’s lawyer might ask.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Domestic Violence Restraining Order?
The length of time varies. EPOs can be issued immediately. However, only law enforcement officials can request this type of restraining order. For a TPO, the judge will typically make a ruling on the same day you file. At the latest, they will decide by the next business day. Permanent restraining orders can take longer to obtain. That’s because the court will schedule a hearing to determine whether one should be issued. The hearing is usually held about 3 weeks after you have submitted your paperwork.
How Much Does It Cost to Get a Restraining Order in California?
You do not have to pay a filing fee for a DVRO.
How Long Can a DVRO Last?
How long your domestic violence protective order is valid for depends on the type:
- An emergency protective order lasts 7 days
- A temporary protective order lasts 20 to 25 days
- A permanent DVRO lasts up to 5 years
Speak with One of Our DVRO Attorneys
At Gill Law Group, PC, our domestic violence restraining order lawyers in Orange County will be clear and upfront about your case and the processes involved in seeking protection from an abuser. We can compassionately guide you throughout and ensure that your situation is thoroughly explained.