The process of getting or fighting a restraining order can be daunting for anyone who does not have full working knowledge of the civil and/or criminal laws of California. If you are located in Los Angeles and are looking for help with any domestic violence restraining order, then Restraining Order Attorney is the right firm to help you.

What is Dating Violence?

Dating violence is any violent action that is committed by one person against another when they were romantically linked or had been intimate with one another. It may include a wide variety of actions, whereby the accused (otherwise referred to as the defendant) and the accuser (otherwise referred to as the victim) must have a relationship that could be construed as romantic or intimate. It is distinct from other forms of violence by this defining factor: the relationship of the defendant and the victim.

This relationship must be: a girlfriend, boyfriend, ex-girlfriend, ex-boyfriend, lover or former lover, and even a current spouse or former spouse. California law does not specify “dating violence”; rather “dating violence” is a blanket term that encompasses a wide variety of relationships. It may also be referred to as “intimate partner violence”. The defendant and victim must have been or at the time be intimately involved with one another.

California law does, however, specify the category of “domestic violence”. Dating violence is, in fact, a form of domestic violence, which is a wide-ranging type of crime that is aggressively prosecuted in the state of California and punished by a variety of means. Restraining orders are one of the essential means by which the California courts deal with domestic violence in general and dating violence specifically.

Dating violence is also quite prevalent among teenagers and has become a major concern. California legal policy is to treat such instances of dating violence as related to the wider parameters of domestic violence. California legal policy is to also treat teen dating violence as a vital concern for the health of any child being abused in this context. Research indicates that any eleven (11) to fourteen (14) old who suffers from abusive behavior is exponentially more likely to engage in abusive behavior in later years. Furthermore, this abusive behavior almost always escalates into something more dangerous and even potentially deadly.

Furthermore, young people who are between sixteen (16) and twenty-four (24) years old have the highest rate per capita of intimate partner violence. They are three times more likely to be the victims or as perpetrators of this type of violence. This is largely because people of this age group are still in their formative years and have not fully developed yet. They are more susceptible to outside influences, such as those from family members (especially parents), peers, friends, other adults, media such as films and music, and a variety of personal experiences.

Any abuse that occurs during the youth of a child may result in deeply unhealthy stress and emotional coping mechanisms developing as they get old. How the youth develops gets seriously distorted and disrupted. There are emotional, mental, and physical consequences to a youth being exposed to abuse. These include:

  1. Unstable weight, including risky behaviors to control weight such as anorexia, bulimia, overeating, and other eating disorders.

  2. Sexual behavior that is high-risk, including unprotected sex and multiple sexual partners. This, in turn, may lead to unwanted pregnancies (including teen pregnancy) and sexually transmitted infections (STI’s).

  3. Higher rates of suicide. Being exposed to abuse and/or violence, particularly at a young age, has been proven to be linked to higher rates of suicide and suicide attempts.

Nearly ten percent (10%) of students in high school report being victims of teen dating violence. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the victims are young women and the vast majority of perpetrators are young men. This shockingly high percentage is largely due to what is known as “the cycle of abuse”. This states that any and all abuse that is inflicted upon a youth is internalized by the youth because of the still developing nature of their brain and personality. Most of the habits and skills we use in our adult lives we learn in our youth; the same goes true for negative behaviors and violent tendencies. That is to say, anyone who is the victim of abuse is statistically much more likely to then go on and subject someone else to abuse. That is the “cycle”.

One of the primary tools in fighting dating violence is the use of a dating violence restraining order.

What is a Dating Violence Restraining Order?

Restraining orders are particular directives of the court that are issued by a judge and are used to control the behavior of a defendant (otherwise referred to as the “restrained person”). They can require the defendant do (or not do) a wide variety of things. A dating violence restraining order is specifically a domestic violence restraining order, which in California is the type of restraining order that covers dating violence.

A domestic violence restraining order (otherwise known as a DVRO) requires a specific qualifying relationship between the defendant and the victim. In the state of California, this can be a married/divorced/legally separated couple, a co-parent, a registered domestic partner, a cohabitant, or an immediate family member (such as mother, father, brother, or sister). A dating violence restraining order is simply a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO) that does not involve an immediate family member, but rather someone with whom the victim is or has been romantically involved with.

The person for whom the restraining order protects is referred to as the “protected person” while the person against whom the restraining order is issued is referred to as the “restrained person”. Depending on how the judge wants to structure the domestic violence restraining order in terms of its specific instructions, it may also protect other people like the family members or cohabitants of the protected person. This is due to the fact that dating violence in particular and domestic violence in general has been shown, through years of research, to be a type of violence that is not random and rare but rather deliberate and prolonged.

That is to say, if a defendant is abusing a victim in an intimate setting, the likelihood that they will use other people to whom the victim is also close with is high. The defendant may abuse the family of the victim or the victim’s loved ones to intimidate them or to increase the level of abuse already heaped on the victim. Because of this, the judge may also set down a comprehensive list of instructions that absolutely must be followed by the defendant. If they do not, it will trigger the criminal charge of “violation of a restraining or protective order” under California Penal Code 273.6 PC. The District Attorney (DA) would bring charges forward and prosecute the defendant.

What Happens if you Violate a Dating Violence Restraining Order?

A restraining order must be obeyed, fully, and without any exceptions. Failure to do so is a crime under California Penal Code 273.6 PC. This specifies that a defendant’s failure to obey a restraining or protective order is a punishable crime. Since a dating violence restraining order is simply a domestic violence restraining order, then the order that was issued by the judge was a civil one. That means that the victim petitioned the judge for protection from their intimate partner. Therefore, the violation of Penal Code 273.6 essentially changes a civil proceeding into a criminal matter. All the DA would have to prove is that the defendant willfully, intentionally, and/or maliciously ignored the judge and they would be facing the crime.

The DA can decide to either file it as a felony or misdemeanor. This is also known as a “wobbler” offense, because of the charge “wobbles” between a felony class crime and a misdemeanor class crime. The prosecution decides what type of charges to file, largely based on the criminal history/arrest record of the defendant and the specific facts of the crime. This may include details like whether the defendant has been charged with the same or similar crime before or if the abuse resulted in serious physical injury for the victim. Either of those conditions would almost certainly merit a felony charge, and thereby more serious consequences.

A conviction for a violation of a restraining order will end up in a judge sentencing a term of three (3) years in prison for a felony conviction or one (1) year in the county jail for a misdemeanor conviction. The judge will also require that the defendant pay all court fees and a fine as well as restitution to be paid to the victim. The judge may also require mandatory counseling for anger management or domestic violence, particularly if this was one of the conditions of the original restraining order that was ignored by the defendant. The judge will also require any guns to be surrendered and an interdiction to purchase any new ones.

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What Can a Judge Require in a Dating Violence Restraining Order?

The judge overseeing the issuance and adherence of the dating violence restraining order has a great deal of leeway in ordering the defendant to refrain from and/or engage in various kinds of behavior. Restraining orders are powerful documents that can be profoundly helpful to a victim seeking solace as well as profoundly disruptive to a defendant who has been wrongly or falsely accused.

Some of the caveats that a domestic violence restraining order may have, as they pertain to dating violence, are the following:

  1. Not allowing any contact whatsoever. This caveat prohibits the defendant from having any contact with the alleged victim. This covers all possible mediums of communication, including via phone calls, emails, social media, and/or text messages. This is almost always the first caveat that is broken (and is frequently broken).

  2. Not to observe, stalk, disturb, and/or assault the protected person. Obsessively following or observing a victim usually has a sexual component to it, as well as a sense of power being wielded over them. This is directly in line with the type of behavior one would expect to see in an intimate partner relationship marred by abuse. Furthermore, some of these behaviors, such as stalking (California Penal Code Section 646.9 PC) and/or assault (California Penal Code Section 240 PC), are crimes in their own right and will be prosecuted as such in addition to any violation of the restraining order.

  3. To make only peaceful contact with the victim. This caveat is generally only present if the defendant and victim absolutely need to have contact for some specific reason, such as to allow rearing of their children, the successful implementation of joint custody, and/or supervised visits for one of the parents of said children. As long as all interactions are peaceful, easy, and civil, then the two parties may have contact. However, any kind of abusive behavior, threats, or untoward behavior will result in a swift violation of the restraining order being charged against the defendant.

  4. Keep a minimum distance from the victim. This caveat explicitly requires the defendant to remain some minimum distance (usually 300 feet) from the protected person and their home, school, place of employment, and/or car. The defendant may also be required to remain at least 300 feet from anyone related to the victim, such as friends or family. The minimum distance can be increased if the defendant has been particularly violent and/or abusive.

  5. To vacate a shared residence or house. This caveat directs the defendant to leave any shared habitation with the victim. If the couple is married and there is a divorce underway, then even if the defendant owns the place of residence they may be compelled to move out until the divorce proceedings are final.

  6. To give up any firearms and not purchase any new ones.

  7. To attend mandatory therapy and/or counseling. This caveat requires the defendant to attend counseling sessions (such as anger management or classes on domestic violence) with a court-approved professional. This directive is specifically directed at trying to break the cycle of abuse that the defendant may find themselves stuck in.

The restraining order in question may include any and/or all of these provisions. Violation of any of these will automatically result in the DA pursuing charges against the defendant. Furthermore, the restraining order will almost always require that the defendant stay away not only from the victim, but anyone associated with the victim. A judge may even require that the victim not have any contact with the victim’s pets as there have been horrific cases of abusers hurting or killing pets in order to enact further abuse on the victim.

What is the Process of Getting and Serving a Restraining Order?

The victim will have to argue to the judge why they need to be protected by the courts from their intimate partner. This is generally very easy to do as the burden of proof is quite low in these situations and need only meet a standard of evidence of “reasonable proof”. This is in contrast to the “beyond a reasonable doubt” level that prosecutors must observe in trying to get a conviction for a criminal charge. Examples of evidence that would be considered ample to secure the issuance of a restraining order include: written or recorded threats (including voicemails, emails, texts, and/or social media posts), eyewitness testimonies, and any medical records or arrest reports.

The judge can then issue a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) which usually lasts up to thirty (30) days. If the judge issues a Temporary Restraining Order, the defendant who is specified in the order (the restrained person) must then be served with the court order. This is so that they are aware of the restrictions on their behavior. This is also to inform them that they have the right to contest the restraining order at a hearing for a Permanent Restraining Order (PRO) at a later time and date. The date and time of this hearing will be specified in the paperwork. The paperwork will also include detailed reasons as to why the victim petitioned the judge for the restraining order. This will allow the defendant ample time to prepare their version of events and to contest the provisions of the restraining order to keep a temporary one from becoming permanent. The hearing for the permanent restraining order is usually within thirty (30) days.

As this paperwork is absolutely vital for the defendant, it cannot be mailed but must be directly handed to the defendant in a process known as “serving”. This can be done either by a process server or by an officer of law enforcement.