Restraining orders, also called protective orders, restrain a person from contacting or attempting to contact another person. A restraining order violation is a California crime that you can be arrested for. Not all violations will result in an arrest, but it is still a crime that can land you in jail.
Restraining orders often have many terms and conditions that you have to follow. An order will typically forbid you from contacting or attempting to contact the protected person, but it may ask you do to other things as well. A restraining order may require you to relinquish your firearms. It can also prevent you from going to the protected person's property or place of work. It may prevent you from contacting or attempting to contact the protected person's close family members. It can even prevent you from seeing your child in some cases.
Because a restraining order will restrict you in many ways, a violation may be easier than you would think. If you do violate it and the police are notified, you can be arrested. Review your restraining order carefully to make sure you are aware of all the restrictions and terms. You are responsible for following the order once you have it. A restraining order violation can be charged either as a misdemeanor or a felony. This is what is called a wobbler crime in California because it can be charged either way. Your history of past offenses and whether the victim was harmed by the violation will influence how you will be charged.
A restraining order violation charged as a misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in a county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. You could face a fine of up to $2,000 and a minimum jail sentence of 30 days if the violation results in physical injury to the protected person. You could face a minimum of six months in a county jail for a second violation resulting in physical injury within one year. These punishments may seem harsh, but you could be ordered to do more things. If you are given probation for your offense, you could be ordered to make payments to a battered women's shelter of up to $5,000 or provide the victim with restitution or reimbursements instead of a fine.
There are several possible defenses to a restraining order violation charge. Violating a restraining order is only a crime if you do so intentionally. You cannot be convicted if you were not aware of the restraining order. You must be given notice of the order by the judge, court, or police officer. If you were not given notice and then violated the order, you have a strong defense. Notice will be presumed, however, if the court sent it to your address.
Similarly, you cannot be convicted if you unintentionally or unwillingly violated the order. Accidental violations are not enough to get you arrested. Running across the protected person unintentionally would not be a crime. It must be noted, however, that you would be responsible for moving away from the protected person in such an instance. Similarly, you do not have the right to violate the order if the protected person wishes it. For example, you would still have to adhere to the order if he or she called you on the phone or tried to approach you.
False allegations of violations are not uncommon. Fighting charges brought on by false allegations can be hard if there is no physical proof involved. Make sure you have a skilled attorney representing you if you have been falsely accused of violating your order.
Speak with a California criminal defense attorney with experience handling domestic violence and restraining order violation cases. A skilled attorney may be able to successfully use a defense in your case. An attorney can also help you obtain a minimum sentence if you are convicted. Restraining order violations are serious charges that can have harsh repercussions so it is in your best interests to consult with an attorney and plan your defense wisely.
Do you have questions about restraining order violations? If so, contact attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team for expert counsel. Experienced in criminal defense, our Visalia area legal team will make sure your rights are defended. With over ten years of criminal defense experience, Christopher Martens will aggressively defend your rights and will not be afraid to take your case all the way to trial. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.