Steve Fernandez |

Restraining Orders

California courts can issue an order to make sure someone stays away from you. This is done by applying for a restraining order. It is also commonly called a protective order. An order restricts someone from making contact with their alleged victim. It is usually called a stay-away order and they are required to be at least around 100 yards away from the other person for the duration of the order. If the order is violated, it can result in an arrest and jail time.

Orders can include specific behaviors that are prohibited. Often, this includes moving out, stalking, harassing, or communicating with the other person. It can also award custody to one parent if the other is accused of abuse in an order. Some also include language that forbids gun ownership or prohibits the subject from entering certain businesses or school zones.

 There are three main types of restraining orders in California. They are: 

1) Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)

Anyone can file for a TRO if they are the victim of violence, threats of violence, abuse, domestic abuse, or harassment. These orders are filed in Superior Court and last between 20 to 25 days. There is no cost to file for a restraining order. The purpose is to offer protection to the victim before the court has heard their full case. There are four different types of restraining orders you can ask for:

  1. Domestic Violence Restraining Order: This is for people who have been abused by someone that you have a close personal relationship. This can be marriage, partnerships, living together, or dating. It can also be with a close family member like a child, grandparent, or in-law.
  1. Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse: Any person between the ages of 18 and 64 with certain mental or physical abilities can file for this. It can also be claimed by anyone over the age of 65. Proof must show that you are the victim of some form of abuse like neglect, abandonment, physical or mental abuse, deprivation, or financial mishandling.
  1. Workplace Violence Restraining Order: An employer can seek this type of restraining order on behalf of their employee. The employee must be a victim at the workplace of serious harassment, violence, stalking, or a credible threat of violence.
  1. Civil Harassment: This is for people who are being harassed, abused, stalked, or threatened by someone that they are not close to. This is similar to the domestic violence restraining order but it applies to acquaintances and strangers that you do not have a close relationship. This could be neighbors, strangers, or someone you have only met once or twice.

2) Permanent Restraining Order

These are usually only issued after a TRO. These cannot be ordered unless there is an actual court hearing. The judge will be the final decider on whether the victim needs a permanent restraining order or whether there are other protections for them that they can utilize.

Despite the name, a permanent restraining order is not for forever. They usually range between a length of 3 to 5 years. Domestic violence restraining orders tend to have the longest length of time. It is possible to reapply for an order once it has expired.

3) Emergency Protective Order (EPO)

Under CA Family code section 6250, a law enforcement officer can request an EPO from the courts in certain situations. Once it is granted, it is valid for one week. If the person who it is granted against lives in your home, the officers can request that they leave for the duration of the order.

Judges are available 24 hours to hear requests for EPOs. Law enforcement officials are the only people who can request them. There is no way for a general citizen to request an EPO. However, you can appeal to an officer and ask that they request one on your behalf.

To be valid, the EPO needs to be signed by the judge and issued for one of several reasons including:

  • Present danger of domestic violence
  • An elderly person or dependent adult who is possibly in immediate danger
  • A child that is in danger of being abducted

The request also needs to show how the EPO will prevent domestic violence, abduction, or immediate danger. This can be either new behavior or a repeated pattern of abuse that has happened by the person the order will be against. The purpose of an EPO is to protect individuals who will more than likely be filing for a temporary or permanent restraining order in the future.