Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)

When a person you're close with suddenly becomes violent, it can be hard to know what to do. However, there's no reason to simply let this unfortunate situation be; the state of California has created a legal framework to help people who have become the victims of domestic assault keep their abusers away. If an abuser violates a domestic violence restraining order, they could face jail time, and you'll need to know everything that you can about the process of petitioning a judge for a temporary restraining order (TRO) when you feel like your safety is in jeopardy.

What Is a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)?

A TRO is a temporary type of restraining order that can be issued by a judge in the state of California. The purpose of a TRO is to protect you from a restrained person while you wait for an opportunity to state your case in court, and most TROs last 30 days at the most. Even though TROs are limited in terms of duration, they carry the same legal significance of other kinds of restraining orders, and violations of TROs are prosecuted just as seriously as violations of other kinds of restraining orders.

To issue a TRO, a judge will need to determine that there is a credible threat to your life or well-being, but it isn't a requirement to directly interact with a judge to receive an order of this type. Instead, you'll just need to submit some paperwork, and an experienced California restraining order lawyer can help you prepare this paperwork in such a way that all-but-guarantees that your request for a TRO will be granted.

Are There Other Types of California Restraining Orders?

TROs are issued under circumstances of domestic violence. If a judge finds that you do not qualify for a TRO, you may be eligible for a different type of restraining order. The other versions of restraining orders the state of California offers include:

  1. Civil harassment restraining orders: Judges in California issue civil harassment restraining orders when there isn't a close relationship between the harassed person and the person who is restrained. These kinds of orders can be issued when the person harassing you is a neighbor, a roommate, or a coworker, and they are also valid in cases where the person who is harassing you is a distant relative such as a cousin, aunt, or uncle.

  2. Elder or dependent adult abuse restraining orders: These types of restraining orders may be issued if the person being abused is 65 or older. They are also issued in the abused person is a dependent adult who is between 18 and 64. Dependents are looked at differently under California state law than independent adults, and these special types of restraining orders can protect your safety if you are someone else's dependent.

  3. Workplace violence restraining orders: These restraining orders apply specifically in cases of workplace violence. If someone in your workplace is stalking, physically harming, or harassing you, you may be able to successfully petition for a workplace violence restraining order from a judge in California.

What Constitutes Domestic Abuse in California?

The state of California is very clear when it comes to its definition of domestic abuse. To issue a temporary restraining order, a California judge must have determined that domestic abuse has taken place, and the official definition of this type of abuse includes:

  • Reckless or intentional attempted or actual physical harm;

  • Assault of a sexual nature;

  • Behavior that is so threatening that a person believes that they or someone close to them is in danger of imminent physical harm;

  • Personal property destruction, threats, stalking, or harassment;

  • Unreasonably disturbing the peace of another person.

If someone that you know intimately has perpetrated these types of acts toward you, you may be eligible for a temporary restraining order, and you should coordinate with a lawyer immediately to consider your options.

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What Other Types of California Domestic Abuse Restraining Orders Are There?

Aside from TROs, there are a number of other types of domestic violence restraining orders that can be issued in the state of California. Each of these restraining orders is valid under different circumstances, and they last for different amounts of time. These restraining order varieties include:

  • Emergency protective orders (EPOs): An EPO is a special type of restraining order that is issued by a member of law enforcement. All other restraining order varieties must be ordered by judges, but EPOs can be issued immediately if it appears that there is a present or ongoing danger presented to you or one of your family members. While EPOs immediately put you under the protection of the state of California, they don't last long; most EPOs expire within seven days, which means that you'll need to quickly take action and secure a TPO if you want to remain protected by the state.

  • Criminal protective orders (CPOs): CPOs are types of restraining orders that only come into effect if the person who has been abusing you has been charged with a crime. These types of restraining orders start working immediately when charges are levied against your abuser, and they last until the point that the case is resolved in court. If the court finds your abuser guilty of abusing you, your CPO automatically remains in effect for a further three years from when the conviction was laid down. Unlike other types of restraining orders, CPOsdon't have a set expiration date before the conviction is reached, and they will last throughout the entire court process.

  • Permanent restraining orders (PROs): If the conditions that led rise to the creation of your TPO are found to still be in effect at the time of your court hearing, the judge will issue a PRO. Permanent restraining orders aren't really permanent; they only last five years. However, when compared to other kinds of restraining orders that are offered by the state of California, which last a month at the most, it's clear to see why these legal protective measures are seen as permanent. You can only receive a PRO after receiving a TPO, and a judge will only issue this type of protective order if they deem that the person who abused you still stands a chance of abusing you again. The person who abused you will certainly argue their case against the PRO as strenuously as possible, which means that you'll need to have a dedicated attorney by your side when the time comes for your court hearing date

How Do You Receive a TRO?

To receive a temporary restraining order, you'll usually need to have been provided an EPO by a member of law enforcement in California. However, you can also go to a courthouse directly and file for a TRO even if you haven't received an emergency protection order. In either case, to receive a TRO, you'll need to request the relevant paperwork at your local court, and you'll need to submit it to a judge. TRO paperwork is relatively complex, so you should retain the assistance of a qualified California restraining order attorney before you embark on the process of submitting these forms.

Once a judge has received your request for a TRO, they will generally approve or deny your request within one business day. At the same time that they approve your TRO, a judge will also set a court date in which both you and your abuser must appear to state your versions of the case. If you don't show up to your court date, your TRO is canceled, and you will have to restart the application process if you still require protection. If the restrained person doesn't show up to court, they won't have a chance to state their side of things, and the judge will usually move on with the process of issuing a permanent restraining order.

Can You Only Request a TPO for Yourself?

You can also request a TPO for a minor dependent. If one of your children is experiencing abuse, and if they are under age 12, you can request a TPO for them. Once he or she is at least 12, your child can request a TPO for themselves, but you can still act as their legal agent in requesting restraining orders until they reach age 18.

When Will a Judge Issue a TPO?

A judge in California will only issue a TPO when they can determine that you and your abuser have a close relationship. They will also need to determine that the person threatened you and that you will stay in danger as long as your abuser is not restrained by law. Under California state law, the qualifications for a close relationship are very clear, and they include:

  • Being in a married or domestic partner relationship;

  • Being former partners who are separated or divorced;

  • Being people who used to date or who currently date each other;

  • Being the parents of a shared child;

  • Being closely related by blood or marriage.

If a judge can determine that you have one of these relationships with your abuser, and if they can determine that this person represents a clear and present threat to your well-being, it is likely that they will issue a TPO without delay.

What Are the Effects of a TPO?

The most important effect of your TPO is keeping the restrained person from being in your presence. TPOs vary in regards to how far they demand that a person keep their distance, but they are all alike in forbidding direct contact. Even though TPOs are temporary, they have the same applications as PROs or other types of restraining orders, and your abuser shouldn't mistake the title "temporary" for meaning "less important." If the court issues a TPO in your favor, the restrained person must:

  • Make zero contact with the person named on the restraining order, their kids, their relatives, their housemates, or even their pets;

  • Stay physically distant from your house, your workplace, or any of the schools where your children are students;

  • Find new lodgings and vacate your home;

  • Follow spousal, partner, or child support orders;

  • Transfer cell phone accounts and numbers that you use to your name;

  • Avoid making any pertinent insurance policy changes;

  • Avoid making poor spending choices that might adversely affect property that you share;

  • Return items of property that have been specified by the court.

One way in which California state legislators have attempted to make the victims of domestic abuse feel safer is by forcing restrained persons to lose their gun rights and hand over any firearms they own to law enforcement. They also have the option of selling their guns to state-licensed gun dealers.

Are There Things a TPO Doesn't Do?

While a TPO does sever ties between you and your abuser in a number of ways, it doesn't serve as a replacement for a legal divorce. It also doesn't nullify your marriage, and it won't determine parentage if you have a child with your abuser, but you aren't married or engaged in a domestic relationship. You should also remember that TPOs last a maximum of 30 days; they aren't the same as permanent restraining orders, and they will disappear in a flash unless you successfully petition your case before a California judge. To do so, you'll need to be represented by someone who knows all of the tricks of the trade when it comes to getting you the protection that will help you.

When Is a TPO Considered Violated?

The state of California considers a TPO to be violated when the restrained person commits any of the acts that are expressly forbidden by the conditions of the restraining order. However, there are some prerequisites that need to be fulfilled for a judge to consider that a restrained person violated their order. For instance, they must have known before committing the violation that there was a restraining order against them, and the judge must have ordered the restraining order with the normal processes. The restrained person must have also acknowledged that they ascertained the terms of the order, and law enforcement officials in the state of California must have recognized that the person seemed able to follow the stipulations of the order.

If all of these conditions are fulfilled and the restrained person still violates the terms of a restraining order, the state of California views this as a bonafide instance of restraining order violation. The consequences of violating a restraining order are severe, and they serve to better protect an abused person from further violation.

What Are the Legal Punishments for TPO Violation?

The first time that a restrained person violates their TPO, a judge might rule more leniently on the case. In some circumstances, skilled attorneys can keep their clients out of jail even if they knowingly violated the terms of their restraining orders, and they may be capable of securing probation instead.

But, if a person violates their TPO multiple times, a judge will be much less lenient. Since TPOs only last 30 days at the most, repeated violations within this period demonstrate a severe inability to follow the orders laid down by the court, and a judge will most likely choose to convict a repeat offender with the worst possible punishment if they show themselves to be that dangerous.

Whether it's a first violation or a subsequent violation, California judges always have the power to rule TPO violations as either felonies or misdemeanors. If ruled as a misdemeanor, a violator may need to pay a fine or spend up to a year in prison. If the case is ruled as a felony, however, the violator may need to pay a much larger fine or serve a three-year state prison sentence.

When deciding how to rule on a TPO violation, a California judge will also take a violator's record into consideration. If they don't have a criminal record beyond the violation, they may be lenient. However, if a violator has a criminal history (especially a violent criminal history), a judge will be much more likely to punish the violator within the full extent of the law.

What's the Next Step After You Receive a TPO?

Since TPOs are temporary, it's important that you state your case in a courtroom as soon as possible. A California restraining order lawyer can assist you with this process.