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Los Angeles Restraining Orders Defense Attorney

Restraining orders can wreak havoc on a person's life. They can shatter a person's finances, separate them from the life they've built, and even keep them from their children. Getting served with a restraining order can be devastating. It's not abnormal at all to feel anger, sadness, fear, and disappointment all at once. You could even feel like you have no recourse and that everything is spiraling out of control. You do, though, have the opportunity to defend yourself. You will be given the opportunity to present your side of the story, and at Power Trial Lawyers, we help people in those situations.

Types of Restraining Orders

There are three different kinds of restraining orders that may be issued in the state of California. Generally, this is an escalating process where one kind of order graduates to the next. They come with varying timelines for their expiration. The three kinds of orders are:

  • Emergency Protective Order - These issues have a very short timeline, usually a week, to allow the alleged victim the chance to go to court for a fuller temporary order. The orders are typically very boilerplate and not unique to the situation. This is because they are usually handed out by police responding to some type of domestic violence situation.
  • Temporary Restraining Order - This is the initial kind of restraining order that is given out by the court. Only the petitioner is involved in this process, and the party that is being served with the restraining order will typically be unaware that the process is going on, much less be given the opportunity to defend themselves. All that is needed here is for the petitioner to present enough evidence to persuade the court of the necessity for a hearing on a full protective order. These temporary orders are given until that hearing can occur. Even if they have an expiration date, temporary orders may be renewed until the hearing happens.
  • Permanent Restraining Order - The duration of these particular orders is typically at least a span of years and may be without an end date. These orders are those that are handed down after the hearing process that follows a temporary restraining order. Both sides will be given the opportunity to make their case. If, after hearing both sides, the court feels that the petitioner is correct in seeing you as a threat, then they will issue permanent orders. These orders can involve a variety of limitations. They take effect immediately and replace all previous orders, which are terminated at that time.
How a Restraining Order Works

A restraining order is typically awarded to someone who a court believes to be a victim of abuse at the hands of another person, who is considered to be the abuser. The abuse is often domestic in nature, though there are other situations where an order may be given. The orders set a variety of restrictions on the alleged abuser, mostly regarding their relationship with the victim and any children that may be involved. While there are some things that are typically uniformly included in the orders, there are often things that the court feels are required in a given situation. The kinds of restrictions that could be placed on you if you are given a permanent restraining order include:

  • You may be required to stay a certain distance away from the petitioner.
  • You are not to harass, follow, stalk, threaten, abuse, assault, or sexually assault the victim.
  • Disturbing the peace of the victim or damaging their property is also prohibited.
  • Any kind of contact with the petitioner, whether indirect or direct, is usually prohibited. It's critical to realize that this usually includes any kind of digital contact as well, such as email, texting, and social media.
  • It's important to realize that all restrictions may also extend to any children involved. The victim may be given full custody for the duration of the orders.
  • If you are married to the victim and/or have children with the victim, then it's possible that you may be ordered to pay alimony and child support for the duration of the orders.
  • You will likely be ordered to vacate the home if you share a residence with the victim. This will hold true even if you are the rightful owner of the home or tenant in a lease.
  • Temporary ownership of jointly owned items, such as a car or house, may be granted to the victim.
  • You may be ordered to stay away from any animals and not harm them.
  • Shared debts may be made solely your responsibility.
  • You may be required to pay any costs or bills associated with any abuse that the victim suffered. This includes medical and dental bills, shelter stays, and counseling.
  • A shared phone must be put into the victim's name.
  • You may be required to pay for the victim's attorney fees.
  • If you have a firearm, you may be required to dispose of it in some way, including either selling it or storing it with the police for the duration.
  • The court may choose to manage classes or treatment programs as fit the situation, including anger management classes, parenting classes, or battering treatment.
  • Additionally, the court may add other restrictions that are requested by the victim's petition if they are deemed to be reasonable.

Another element of note is that, although it's not a criminal conviction, a restraining order will appear on your record and often appears on background checks. There are many situations where it may be treated not dissimilarly from a crime. Therefore, a restraining order may lead to challenges in things like employment, educational opportunities, professional licenses, and even in one's social life. Given the serious impact of a restraining order, it's important that you work with a lawyer to avoid a permanent order if you've been given an emergency or temporary order.

Penalties for Violating a Restraining Order

There are several different ways that a violation of a restraining order could be penalized. The exact penalty handed out will likely be a product of:

  • The order that was violated
  • The severity of the violation
  • The harm or damage caused by the violation

In some cases, the violation may only be treated as contempt of court. Because the orders are court orders, failing to follow them could be considered acting in contempt of court. These are typically punished with fines, time in jail, or both.

If the violation caused the victim injury or harm, there could be civil consequences associated. You may have to pay for things like medical bills and any pain and suffering that the victim endured.

Criminal charges are also possible, especially if the violation was something more serious in nature, such as domestic violence. That itself may be criminally charged, and criminal violation of a restraining order charges may be added as well. The charge could be a misdemeanor if it is a first offense and not particularly serious. However, subsequent or serious offenses will likely be charged as felonies.

Potential misdemeanor penalties may include:
  • Up to one year in jail
  • Up to $1000 in fines
  • Restitution to the victim
  • Required relinquishing of a firearm
  • Mandatory counseling

There are two possibilities of felony charges, and their penalties could be either probation with up to one year in county jail or 16 to 36 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

It's important to work with a quality criminal defense attorney if you are charged with violating a restraining order. There are ways to defend against those charges, and the team at Power Trial Lawyers is ready to help you fight them.

What to Do If You Are Served With a Restraining Order

Being served with a restraining order could lead to a lot of emotions. It makes sense to feel angered, saddened, and maybe even shamed. It's important, though, that you don't act out of that emotion. It's very easy to make the situation worse. Most importantly, you shouldn't do anything that violates the order. There's a time and place for the orders to be challenged, but it becomes much more difficult to do so if you've done something that violates the orders.

The second thing you need to do is use the established process to fight the orders. The most effective way that you can do this is by working with a lawyer who understands the process and how to defend your situation. You may feel like there's no chance and that everything is working against you. Although it may feel that way, you do stand some chance to defend yourself and get the orders removed. At Power Trial Lawyers, we can help make that happen.

Fighting a Restraining Order

Fighting a restraining order is possible and has been done before successfully. The time that the orders can be challenged is at the hearing, before any permanent orders are issued. At this hearing, your side will be given the opportunity to be heard. There are, though, a few unique challenges involved in restraining order cases.

One issue is that a restraining order may not be the only legal issue that you are faced with. It's possible that you may be facing criminal charges related to an incident that pertains to the restraining order. The restraining order hearing will happen well before the criminal trial and is a matter of public record. This means that the prosecution in the criminal case will have access to what was said in the hearing. It's important that you don't say anything in the hearing that can be used against you in the criminal trial, which will likely carry more significant consequences.

Another challenge is that, because the restraining order hearing is not a criminal trial, the standard of "beyond a reasonable doubt" does not need to be met. The court merely needs to be persuaded by the evidence that you did commit an act worthy of a restraining order. Practically speaking, this means that the challenges to the evidence presented by the petitioner need to be particularly aggressive and overwhelming.

Given the unique challenges of a restraining order hearing, it's especially important that you work with a skilled, experienced attorney. At Power Trial Lawyers, we can help you fight the evidence being brought against you, help gather evidence in your favor, and protect you from saying something that could later be used against you in a criminal trial. If you are ready to fight a restraining order, we are ready to help.

Fighting Violation of a Restraining Order Charges

Another case where you may need the help of a lawyer is if you've been charged with violating a restraining order. The penalties for a violation could be severe, and it's important to put forth the strongest defense that can be made on your behalf. The exact nature of the defense that is most appropriate for your circumstance is something we can't know without talking with you about your situation. We can, though, say that there are a variety of ways that these kinds of accusations can be fought, including:

  • False claims
  • A trap being set
  • Not being aware of the order
  • An accidental violation
  • Illegal or improper issuance of an order
Don't Fight a Restraining Order Alone

A restraining order can cause a lot of problems for you. Often, a restraining order can be an overreach. The government doesn't hold the same standard of truth as they do in criminal cases, but the consequences, particularly those beyond the legal consequences, are sometimes as impactful as a criminal conviction. This means that you need to have, in some ways, an even stronger defense than in a criminal case.

At Power Trial Lawyers, we work to put together a strong case for our clients. We take every avenue we can to try to keep orders from taking effect. If you've been accused of violating orders, we can help you fight the penalties that come along with that. If you need help with a restraining order that's impacting your life, contact us today.

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