Most people think of a restraining order as a document ordering someone to stay away from another person who is protected under law. In reality, this is only one of the things a restraining order can do. Restraining orders do much more than order defendants to stay away from the protected person because, in part, physical distance isn't always enough to keep the protected person from being harmed. For legal purposes, harm isn't just physical harm; it includes psychological and emotional harm as well. To mitigate any potential harm to the victim, restraining orders are quite compressive. Restraining orders are orders issued by a judge that, in general, restrain a person's actions. In effect, a restraining order, also sometimes called a protective order or an injunction, prevents the restrained person from contacting, attempting to contact, harassing, threatening, or otherwise harming or attempting to harm the protected person. A restraining order can restrain your actions, order you to stay away from a person, also called a stay-away order, and order you to leave your residence, also called a kick-out order. Restraining orders are very serious legal documents and, as such, it is a crime to violate them in any way. Unfortunately, restraining orders can put a number of restrictions on your life, such as ordering you to relinquish any firearms or ammunition, or to have any visitation with your child be supervised. If you do disobey the order, you can be criminally charged.
There are a few different types of restraining orders: domestic violence restraining orders, civil harassment orders, workplace violence restraining orders, and restraining orders for elder or dependent abuse. These orders all essentially restrain the defendant and protect the victim, but they differ in their terms and conditions based on the past or present relationship of the defendant and victim and the situation in which the abuse took place. If you violate any restraining order, the protected person can request the judge find you in contempt of court. This means that you didn't obey the judge's order. Contempt is a serious charge. To be found in contempt of court, it must be demonstrated that you willfully and knowingly violated the order. If you are found in contempt of court after a hearing, you could face five days in a county jail for every violation of the order and you may be fined. If you have a child in common with the protected person, a violation of a restraining order may also affect your custody or visitation rights if you have them.
It is important to keep in mind that when you have a restraining order against you, you are held to follow the order, no matter the actions of the protected person. If he or she tries to contact you, ignore them and stick to the order. The protected person cannot change or cancel the restraining order; only a judge has the power to do so. If you have violated a restraining order and have questions about the consequences, speak with an experienced California criminal defense attorney right away. An attorney can review the order you violated and advise you on what consequences you may face. Because contempt of court is such a serious charge, it doesn't apply to situations where you unwillingly or unknowingly violated the order. However, it is not uncommon for the protected person to attempt to have contempt charges pressed for even minor violations. In most cases, someone will be found in contempt of court only if they repeatedly and knowingly violated an order. Make sure you have a copy of the order handy when you consult with an attorney, and have notes on the facts and circumstances of the alleged violation(s). He or she can also help you prepare a strategic defense. Don't face a contempt charge on your own. The protected person must be able to offer proof of your violations, which can include police reports, 911 call recordings, or witness statements. An attorney may be able to help you mount a defense against this evidence.
Have you or a loved one violated a restraining order? Contact attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team for legal help in Tulare, Fresno or Kings County. Experienced in criminal defense, Mr. Martens will go the distance and fight for your rights. With over ten years experience in criminal defense, Attorney Martens has take over 50 cases to trial and will not be afraid to do the same for you. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.