Permanent Restraining Order

If you need to make sure that your abuser goes away and stays gone, you'll need to get a permanent restraining order. Judges in California don't hand out these types of restraining orders lightly, but if your situation calls for it, you'll be able to attain practically permanent peace of mind. Before you go through the process of pursuing a permanent restraining order against your abuser, you'll need to brush up on some of the facts surrounding domestic violence restraining order law in California, and you'll need to understand how qualified restraining order lawyers can help you present your case before a judge.

What Is a Permanent Restraining Order in California?

A permanent restraining order is a type of legal order that only a California judge can hand down. Permanent restraining orders are the most severe types of restraining orders in this state, and they have the most serious consequences. If your abuser won't leave you alone, you can petition a judge to issue a permanent restraining order against them, but you'll need to meet a number of prerequisites before you ever get the chance to air your case in a courtroom.

Unlike other varieties of restraining orders in California, which might protect you from abusers in the workplace or abusive acquaintances, domestic violence restraining orders protect you from individuals who you have let into your inner circle whether by choice or by blood. These types of restraining orders deal with the most intimate types of relationships that there are, which is why it's so vital that they are judged impartially. The only way to present the full picture of the situation before a judge is to hire expert legal help and the way that the judge ends up ruling on the case will be up to how convincingly you can state your case in court.

What Are the Conditions for Receiving a Permanent Restraining Order?

To have your petition for a permanent restraining order considered in the state of California, the person from whom you want protection will need to have a certain relationship with you, and they will need to have committed certain acts. Here are the conditions that you'll need to meet for a California judge to consider your case:

  1. The person who you want a restraining order against must have abused you or threatened to do so.

  2. You must be in a close relationship with the person who you want a restraining order against. The state of California defines a close relationship as:

    • Partner or spouse

    • Divorced partner

    • Girlfriend or boyfriend (current or former)

    • Cohabitant (former or current)

    • Person who you have a child with

    • A close relative (parent, sister, brother, child, grandfather, grandmother)

If the person who has been abusing you meets all of these conditions, you will be able to file for a permanent restraining order. If they don't, you'll probably be able to file for one of the other types of restraining orders offered in the state of California, and you should consult with your attorney to learn more.

Can You File a Restraining Order for Your Child?

If your child hasn't yet reached the age of 18, you can file a permanent restraining order for them, and you can represent them in court or provide them with adequate representation. After they are 12 years old or older, your child can technically file for a restraining order by themselves, but you can still perform this function for your child until they become a legal adult.

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What Defines Domestic Abuse in California?

To determine whether or not the person who you want a restraining order against has abused you, the judge will need to make sure that your depiction of the abuse conforms with California's statutes defining the nature of domestic abuse. According to California law, abuse can be sexual in nature, and it can also consist of physical harm that was caused intentionally or allowed to happen through reckless behavior. Even if the physical harm never came to pass, if your abuser even tried to harm you, that can constitute abuse. The same goes for threats of physical harm; it's not necessary for your abuser to ever actually abuse you to receive a domestic violence restraining order.

Abuse is also defined as behavior that is threatening, such as stalking, harassment, or destruction of property. You can also petition for a restraining order if your abuser has disturbed your peace, which is a purposefully vague condition that can encompass a number of different behaviors. If your abuser has committed any of the above acts, you have a case as long as you acquire adequate legal representation.

What Are the Other Kinds of Domestic Violence Restraining Orders?

In addition to permanent restraining orders, there are three other types of restraining orders that judges or other law enforcement personnel may offer in the state of California. If you want to receive a permanent restraining order, you will need to know about at least two of the other kinds of restraining orders that are provided.

  • Emergency protective orders (EPOs): EPOs are the only types of restraining orders that aren't provided by California judges. Instead, they can be provided by any qualified California law enforcement officer (LEO) if they deem the situation to be deserving of this action. The reason for this break from tradition is that, while judges aren't out in the field observing crimes, LEOs are, and they can determine if a situation is so dangerous that action should be taken immediately. However, since LEOs are provided with much lesser purview when it comes to life-altering decisions in California and elsewhere in the United States, EPOs don't last nearly as long as the varieties of restraining orders that are offered by judges. EPOs expire within a single week, and if you want to remain protected from your abuser under California law, you'll need to make your way to a California courthouse within that time period to take the next step. While receiving an EPO isn't a necessary prerequisite to receiving a permanent restraining order, if you're dealing with a significant situation of domestic abuse, it's likely that an LEO will provide you with an EPO before you have a chance to make it to a court.

  • Temporary restraining orders (TROs): These types of restraining orders are offered by California judges. They are the next step of escalation when it comes to domestic abuse restraining orders, and they last significantly longer than EPOs. You don't need to have been issued an EPO to receive a TPO; all you need to do to get one of these restraining orders is go to a California courthouse and fill out the necessary paperwork. Getting a TPO also doesn't require a hearing before a judge; a California judge will simply look over your paperwork within about a day and make a ruling. If your stated case seems worthy of a TPO, the judge will grant it, and if not, they will deny your request. If your original request isn't granted, you can fill out and submit the paperwork again, and this time, you might want to retain the services of a restraining order attorney in California to make sure that your request is worded in such a way that it will garner preferential treatment. Even though TPOs can last up to 30 days, they are only designed to be stopovers on the way to a permanent restraining order; within 30 days, both you and your abuser will be summoned to court to argue your case before a judge.

  • Criminal protective orders (CPOs): In extreme cases, your abuser might be issued a CPO. While most instances of domestic abuse don't include crimes, some of them do, and if your abuser is arrested for harming you, they may be forced to stay away from you with a CPO. These kinds of restraining orders last until your abuser can be brought to trial, which means that they don't have a set expiration date. If your abuser is convicted, the CPO will last another three years, and you can always file for a permanent restraining order after this protective order runs its course. You don't have to go through a laborious process to receive a CPO; if your abuser has committed a crime against you, that's all the evidence the court needs to label them a threat and make it illegal for them to have any contact with you.

What Is the Process for Receiving a Permanent Restraining Order?

Whether you receive an EPO or not, you'll need to go to a court to receive a TPO if you want to go ahead with the process of receiving a permanent protective order. When your TPO filing is accepted, you'll be notified of your court date, and you'll need to make sure to arrive it court that day to avoid having your case dismissed. If your abuser doesn't show up to court, your case will go forward, and this turn of events can actually be beneficial to you. The only reason your abuser needs to present themselves in the courthouse is to give their side of events, and if they fail to show up, they relinquish this right, and you'll be able to monopolize the judge's ear with your depiction of what happened. If the judge decides that your petition is valid, they will immediately issue a permanent restraining order, and the behavior of your accuser will continue to be restrained in the same way that it was under their temporary restraining order.

What Effects Do Permanent Restraining Order Have?

EPOs, TROs, and permanent restraining orders all have the same effects on restrained persons; they only vary in terms of their effective periods. The main function of a permanent restraining order is to keep your abuser away from you, but simply barring physical contact isn't enough to make sure that the restrained person doesn't have any further impact on your life. In addition to disallowing contact between the restrained person and you or any member of your immediate family, permanent restraining orders also:

  • Require that the restrained person stay away from your places of residence and work and that they don't go near your kids' schools

  • Force the restrained person to find a new place to live if they are living in your home

  • Ensure that the restrained person fulfills any child support, partner, or spousal court orders

  • Demand that the restrained person transfers the ownership of any cell phone plans that you use to your name

  • Forbid the restrained person from making any alterations to shared insurance plans

  • Forbid the restrained person from making any spending or investment decisions that could harm or otherwise impact your shared financial situation

  • Give back certain personal property items that were named in the text of the restraining order

With the combination of all of these effects, the legal system in the state of California makes sure to insulate you from most of the types of impact that the restrained person could have on your life. California legislators understand that physical distance just isn't enough, and they've taken action to make it as hard as possible for your abuser's presence to crop back up in your life.

Can a Restrained Person Have a Gun?

One of the most notable effects of permanent restraining orders in California is that they make it illegal for your abuser to own a gun. The right to own firearms is enshrined in the Second Amendment, but this right doesn't apply to people who have been judged to be a danger to society. As soon as your permanent restraining order is issued, your abuser will be forced to immediately relinquish any guns that they may have to either law enforcement or a state-recognized gun dealer. This measure was added to restraining order law in California to better protect your safety.

What Can't a Permanent Restraining Order Do?

While California legislators have done everything, they can to make permanent restraining orders as formidable as possible, there are some aspects of your relationship with your abuser that these court orders can't sever. For instance, a permanent restraining order doesn't divorce you from your partner, and it doesn't nullify your marriage either. If you need to determine the parentage of your children, you'll also need to pursue this process in another setting since restraining orders don't rule on this subject. In addition, you should understand that permanent restraining orders are limited in their duration.

Are Permanent Restraining Orders Really Permanent?

No, permanent restraining orders made by courts in the state of California only last for five years. However, you can apply for a renewal of your restraining order at the end of this five-year period if you still feel that your abuser represents a threat to you, your children, your housemates, or your immediate family members.

What Happens if Your Abuser Violates their Order?

It's illegal for a restrained person to violate the dictates of their order. The punishment for such a violation varies depending on a number of factors; if the restrained person has a criminal history, the judge will generally interpret the law to its most onerous extent. However, in the case of a first violation, the judge may be more lenient. In the case of any violation of a permanent restraining order, the judge has the option of ruling the infraction as being either a felony or a misdemeanor, and the potential punishments range from a minor fine to three years of confinement in state prison. If a restrained person violates their order multiple times, a judge will almost certainly consider subsequent violations to be felony offenses.

What Counts as a Violation of a Restraining Order?

Whenever a restrained person violates the conditions of their restraining order, this is considered a restraining order violation. However, the restrained person must be aware that they have a restraining order for the violation must be valid, and they must have positively affirmed that they understood the conditions of their order. Also, if the judge who issued the restraining order made any relevant errors in their filing process, actions that might have otherwise been considered violations might not be judged as such. The restrained person must have passed an evaluation determining their ability to follow the conditions of the order; if they are mentally unfit, for instance, this might be considered when a judge decides whether or not an action consists of a willful restraining order violation.