Learning that someone has applied for a restraining order can be incredibly upsetting, regardless of the type of restraining order or the nature of the allegations. Almost always, the “facts” contained in a restraining order petition are entirely biased toward the person seeking protection. However, as emotional as this time is, it is essential that you keep your head and respond in an effective manner.
At the Los Angeles and Orange County restraining order law firm of Power Trial Lawyers, we have extensive experience helping clients defend against all types of restraining orders. We command an impressive knowledge of the legal requirements needed to obtain a restraining order, but we also recognize that, often, these cases come down to credibility. Thus, we take a comprehensive approach to every restraining order defense case we handle, taking as much time as necessary to fully understand what’s often a complicated background.
Effectively Responding to a California Restraining Order
Responding effectively to another’s request for a California restraining order requires careful and strategic action. Below is a detailed guide on how to navigate this process:
Understand What’s at Stake
First, understand the gravity of a restraining order. It’s not just a legal document; it impacts your personal and professional life. A restraining order can limit where you can go and who you can contact, and it may appear in a background check. Obtaining a full grasp of the seriousness of what’s in front of you can help you keep a level head and remind you to act strategically rather than emotionally.
The Importance of Legal Representation
Given the complexity and potential consequences of a restraining order, it is best to consult with an experienced Los Angeles and Orange County restraining order lawyer as early as possible. This way, your attorney can help you begin to gather all the necessary documents and develop a compelling defense to the petitioner’s allegations. Additionally, it is crucial to consult with a criminal defense lawyer if you’re involved in a criminal case, on probation, or if you have been recently arrested.
Some restraining order matters can show up on your background check and may impact your employment, housing, or financial loans. As such, consulting with an attorney is recommended, given the stakes. Moreover, a restraining order violation can be the basis for arrest and criminal liability. Therefore, to ensure the best potential outcome, it is recommended to consult with an attorney promptly.
Respond in Writing
Responding in writing to a restraining order is not required, but it’s a strategic move. It allows you to formally present your side of the story and contest any false allegations. To do so, you must fill out the “Response to Request for Domestic Violence Restraining Order” form. Be factual and concise in your response. Avoid emotional language and focus on addressing the allegations directly rather than focusing on the wrongs committed by the other party (unless you are planning on pursuing a restraining order against them).
A judge presiding over a restraining order case must make a decision at the end of the hearing on whether to grant or deny the petitioner’s request. To do this, the judge will rely on all available evidence presented by the parties. Verbal statements and in-court testimony are considered evidence; however, it is also important to support your position with other types of evidence, as well. For example, to the extent possible, you should attach evidence like pictures, text messages, emails, or any relevant documents that support your case.
Additionally, if the person requesting the restraining order is seeking financial support or lawyer’s fees, you’ll need to complete an “Income and Expense Declaration” (FL-150) form. Attach proof of your income and be honest about your financial situation.
File Your Response
If you prepare a written response, you’ll need to file the “Response to Request for Domestic Violence Restraining Order “ form with the court. There is no fee to file your response forms.
And you can file at the courthouse or online through the e-filing system. Be sure to make two additional copies of your forms – one for your records and the other for the other party.
When filing, it is crucial to ensure your response is timely. The filing deadline will be indicated in the restraining order documents. Delaying or ignoring the order can have legal consequences, such as the court granting the restraining order against you without ever having heard your side of the story.
Serve the Other Party
After filing your response, you must arrange for another adult to mail a copy of your response to the other party. This is a legal requirement and ensures that the other party is aware of your response.
Prepare for Court
Restraining order cases are heard in a courtroom before a judge. Thus, it is imperative that you are prepared to appear in court. Dress professionally and arrive early. Your demeanor in court can influence the judge’s perception of you—as well as impact how credible the judge finds your testimony. You will also want to bring all your documents, including your response form, evidence, and any communication regarding the case.
Attend the Restraining Order Hearing
At the restraining order hearing, it is important to remain respectful and calm at all times. Always address the judge respectfully and keep things professional, regardless of the allegations. When it comes time, present your case clearly and stick to the facts. Avoid getting sidetracked by emotions or irrelevant details. At the end of the hearing, the judge will issue a ruling granting or denying the petitioner’s request for a restraining order. If the judge rules against you, your next move is to file a restraining order appeal; nothing you say or do in court after the judge makes their rule will help you, and it can actually end up causing you additional legal problems.
What Not to Do When Someone Seeks a Restraining Order Against You
When facing a California restraining order, it’s crucial to understand not just what to do but also what not to do. Here are key points to keep in mind:
- Do Not Contact the Petitioner: Avoid any contact with the person seeking the restraining order against you. This includes direct communication, phone calls, texts, emails, social media interaction, and indirect messages through friends or family. Any communication can be interpreted as a violation of the order and could lead to legal consequences.
- Don’t Disregard the Restraining Order: Take the restraining order seriously. Ignoring or trivializing it can lead to severe legal repercussions, including arrest. Always comply with the terms set forth in the order.
- Avoid Emotional Reactions: It’s natural to feel upset but do not let your emotions lead to rash actions. Avoid public outbursts or any form of retaliation against the petitioner or associated individuals.
- Don’t Dispose of Evidence: Keep any relevant evidence, such as texts, emails, or items that could be pertinent to your defense. Discarding them might inadvertently harm your case.
- Do Not Represent Yourself in Court Without Consideration: While self-representation is a right, it’s often not advisable in complex legal matters like restraining orders. Seek legal advice to understand the implications fully.
- Don’t Discuss the Case on Social Media: Avoid discussing the case or the petitioner on social media. Public statements can be used against you in court.
- Don’t Violate the Order’s Terms: Even if you believe the order is unjust, violating its terms can worsen your situation. Respect boundaries, geographical limits, and other conditions specified.
Understanding what not to do is as critical as knowing the right steps to take. Complying with the legal process and seeking proper legal guidance are essential in effectively handling a restraining order.
Has Someone Applied for a Restraining Order Against You?
If you were recently served with a request for a restraining order, it is imperative that your response is thoughtful and strategic. While it’s easy to let your emotions get the best of you, allowing this to happen will only put you in a more difficult situation. Instead, reach out to the dedicated Los Angeles and Orange County restraining order lawyers at Power Trial Lawyers At Barhoma Law, we have significant hands-on experience drafting, litigating and responding to all types of restraining order requests, including those for Domestic Violence Restraining Orders and Civil Harassment Restraining Orders. To learn more about defending against a restraining order and to schedule a no-obligation consultation with Matthew Barhoma or another attorney at Power Trial Lawyers, call 213-800-7664 or connect with us through our online contact form.