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Criminal Protective Orders

Respected Southern California Restraining Order Lawyers Committed to Helping Clients in Los Angeles and Orange County Protect Themselves From Violence

When the government brings criminal charges, it often relies on civilian witnesses to prove its case. This may be the victim of a crime or just someone who happened to personally observe a crime. Regardless, California law gives judges the power to issue criminal protective orders, which protect victims and witnesses from any potential threats or violence from the defendant.

At Power Trial Lawyers, our dedicated Los Angeles criminal protective order lawyers have extensive experience helping men and women navigate the complexities of these powerful orders. We are immediately available to discuss your situation, answer your questions, and provide you with our honest insight and guidance as to how you can protect yourself.

What Is a Criminal Protective Order?

A criminal protective order is a court order issued by a judge that protects a witness or victim of a crime. It prevents the defendant from approaching, hurting, threatening, or communicating with the other person. Criminal protective orders are often issued after an Emergency Protective Order.

There are two types of criminal protective orders: General Criminal Protective Orders (Form CR-161) and Criminal Protective Orders for Domestic Violence (Form CR-160). The primary difference is that a criminal protective order for Domestic Violence is only available in situations where the party seeking protection has or had a familial or romantic relationship with the person they are seeking protection from. However, insofar as the available types of relief, these two criminal protective orders are very similar.

What Can a Criminal Protective Order Do?

A criminal protective order can impose a variety of restrictions on the defendant. The most common terms in a criminal protective order are stay away orders, no contact orders and peaceful contact orders.

What Is a Stay Away Order?

A stay away order prohibits the defendant from coming within a certain distance of the protected party. These orders also typically require the defendant to stay away from certain areas the protected party frequents, such as their home, work, or school.

What Is a No Contact Order?

A no contact order requires the defendant to refrain from contacting the protected person in any way, such as over the phone or through email, text message or social media. No contact orders also preclude a defendant from reaching out to a protected person through a third party, such as a mutual friend or family member. No contact orders may be issued in situations where it is impossible or impractical to prevent the defendant from being in the same physical space as the protected party, for example, if both are students at the same university or work for the same employer.

What Is a Peaceful Contact Order?

A Peaceful contact order is the least restrictive alternative a judge uses in a criminal protective order. Peaceful contact orders typically do not prevent a defendant from being around or communicating with the protected party but require that all communication is peaceful. For example, peaceful contact orders require that a defendant does not hit, strike, threaten, or harass the protected party. It is also a violation of a peaceful contact order to damage the protected person’s property, prevent them from leaving or using the phone, or argue with them in a loud voice.

What Is the Difference Between a Domestic Violence Restraining Order and a Criminal Protective Order?

California law allows people to seek several different types of protection. Two commonly confused orders are Domestic Violence Restraining Orders and Criminal Protective Orders. Indeed, these orders are similar, but there are some important differences.

First, criminal protective orders are issued by a judge in relation to a pending criminal case. On the other hand, domestic violence restraining orders are initiated by the protected party. For example, if someone experienced domestic violence at home but didn’t call the police, their partner would not be arrested. This would prevent the court from issuing a criminal protective order. However, notwithstanding a lack of criminal charges, the victim could seek a Domestic Violence Protective Order based on their affidavit or testimony.

Second, the possible protections available for Domestic Violence Restraining Orders are much more robust. When a judge considers issuing a criminal protective order, they have limited choices: prevent the defendant from being near the victim, prevent the defendant from contacting the victim, or require any contact with the victim to be peaceful. On the other hand, judges presiding over a case involving a Domestic Violence Restraining Order can make temporary custody arrangements, determine which party will possess personal and real property, and more.

What Are the Punishments for Violating a Criminal Protective Order in Los Angeles?

Across California, and in Los Angeles in particular, a violation of a criminal protective order is considered a serious offense and can result in significant consequences. If someone violates a criminal protective order, they could face the following punishments:

Criminal Penalties: Violating a criminal protective order can result in misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the circumstances of the violation and the defendant's criminal history. Penalties can include up to one year in a county jail and a fine of up to $1,000 for a misdemeanor violation. However, if the person violating the order has two or more prior convictions for violating a protective order, or if the violation involves acts of violence, threats, or stalking, the violator can be charged with a felony. Felony convictions for violating a criminal protective order can result in imprisonment.

Probation or Parole Violation: If the person who violates the criminal protective order is on probation or parole at the time of the violation, they could face additional penalties or revocation of their probation or parole.

Mandatory Counseling: In some cases, a person who violates an order may be required to attend counseling or a batterer's intervention program.

Loss of Custody Rights: If there are custody disputes or orders in place, violating a protective order can lead to a loss or reduction in custody or visitation rights.

Firearm Restrictions: Violating a protective order can lead to the loss of the right to own or possess firearms. In California, anyone subject to a protective order is prohibited from owning, possessing, purchasing, or receiving a firearm or ammunition.

Restitution: A person who is found to have violated a criminal protective order may be required to pay restitution to the victim for any losses they incurred as a result of the violation, such as medical expenses, counseling, or property damage.

Issuance of Additional Orders: Upon a finding that someone violated a protective order, the judge overseeing the case can issue additional protective orders or modify existing ones based on the violation.

Given the harsh consequences of noncompliance, it is crucial for individuals to recognize the importance of adhering to protective orders, not only because of the potential legal consequences but also for the safety and well-being of everyone involved.

If you or someone you know is dealing with issues related to a Los Angeles protective order, it is essential to consult with a qualified protective order attorney who can provide you with guidance related to your specific situation as well as any recent changes in the law.

What Happens If a Person With a “No Contact” Protective Order Contacts the Defendant?

Given that many criminal protective orders arise in the context of domestic violence situations, it is not uncommon for the person who initially sought and obtained a protective order to have a change of heart and contact the defendant. It is important to note that a criminal protective order does nothing to limit the rights of the protected person. Thus, they are not in violation of a court order if they reach out to a defendant. However, the defendant could be found in violation of the order if they allow the contact to continue. For this reason, the best Los Angeles criminal protective order lawyers advise their clients to avoid all contact with a protected person—even if they are the ones to initiate contact.

Can Criminal Protective Orders Be Modified?

Yes, however, criminal protective orders can only be modified by a judge and, in most cases, the protected party must be in agreement before a judge will modify a protective order. To ask the judge to modify a criminal protective order, you may need to complete a form, such as a “Request For Hearing On Protective Order Modification And 5 Day Written Notice To Office Of The District Attorney.” Note that every county has slightly different procedures for requesting the modification of a criminal protective order. Your Los Angeles restraining order lawyer can help you determine the proper procedures to follow when seeking modification.

Do You Have Questions About a Los Angeles Criminal Protective Order?

If you are seeking a criminal protective order or you are subject to an order and have questions about your rights or how to modify the order, the Los Angeles criminal protective order lawyers at Power Trial Lawyers can help. At Power Trial Lawyers, we command an in-depth understanding of the laws governing judges’ ability to issue protective orders, what limits they are subject to, and how to effectively seek the modification of an existing order. We understand what’s at stake in these cases and will always take as much time as necessary to understand the entirety of your situation so we can cater our representation accordingly. We also make ourselves available whenever you need us, answering any questions you have along the way. To learn more about criminal protective orders 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.

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