*Generally speaking, Restraining Orders are a function of California Civil Courts, not Criminal Courts. They are also known as Civil Harassment Orders or Stay Away orders.
The concept of a restraining order is simple: To put a certain amount of physical space between two people, and to prevent the restrained person from contacting the protected person. The court would usually issue an order that prevents phone calls, emails, texts, social media messages, and the like. The Court would usually impose a physical limitation as well-- for instance "Stay 100 yards away from the protected person". Restraining orders will usually also protect the loved ones of a protected person-- like the protected person's parents or children.
If you need protection from another person, you must first complete paperwork at the courthouse and present it to the court for a Judge’s signature. You do not need an attorney to complete the paperwork but like all legal situations, it’s never a bad idea to have a legal advocate on your side. Once filed, a Temporary Restraining Order must be signed by a qualified Judge and be served on the Restrained Party. The "Temporary Order" described above is effective from the moment it is served and lasts until the hearing date, which usually occurs a few weeks from the filing date.
At the hearing (the second time you go to Court), you will appear before a Judge and you will have the opportunity to outline your situation and your need for a restraining order. The Restrained Party will also have a chance to be heard. It is highly recommended that you bring a lawyer to this hearing, as the Judge will determine if you receive a "Permanent" Order, as well as the length and conditions of the Order. An experienced attorney will have the skills and know-how to properly present your case and increase your chances of successfully obtaining a "Permanent" Order. Despite the name, a "Permanent" Order can only last for up to two years.
Restraining Orders also have sub-categories, such as Domestic Violence Restraining Orders and Workplace Restraining Orders. Of course, these two sub-categories present special challenges as well. For instance: What if there are children involved? How will the restrained party see his or her children if the protected party is the other parent? These and other issues must be addressed at the Hearing.
You will get a copy of the Permanent Order that should be carried with you at all times. You must also file a copy of the Permanent Order with local law enforcement. Call the police if the Restrained Person violates the order. The Protected Person, the one who requested the Restraining Order, is the primary enforcer of the Order. All violations of the Permanent Restraining Order must be reported to the police immediately. A violation of an order is considered a misdemeanor, a criminal offense, and an Restrained Person can be arrested even though the police may not have witnessed the violation.
If you would like assistance in filing an Restraining Order, or if someone has threatened to file for a Restraining Order against you, contact us right away. We provide you with expert legal advice while making sure that the outcomes will protect you and your family.