When the Stakes are High
If you were arrested for a domestic violence offense, the judge may have issued a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO), also called a restraining order. Restraining orders can be short-term, lasting a few days or just until the case is resolved, or long-term, lasting a few years. You should take a restraining order seriously. Violating a restraining order can result in criminal charges, fines, and even jail time. To help you follow your California restraining order, here is a list of our top tips.
Read and Understand the Order
A restraining order can include many terms and conditions. It's vital to thoroughly understand the scope of your restraining order. Always have an attorney review your order so you have the legal information you need about how to follow it. But, in general, make sure you find out:
Whom the Order Protects
Make sure you know whom the protected person is. There may be more than one protected person listed on the order. For example, the protected person's family members may also be listed on the order.
The Conditions of the Order
You may be restrained from contacting or attempting to contact the victim, the victim's family, or even people the victim lives with. You can also be prohibited from coming within a certain proximity of the victim or even entering your own home. Make sure you understand what you are prohibited from doing. Restraining orders can be simple or complex in scope. The more complex, the greater the likelihood you will slip up and violate it, inviting harsh legal repercussions.
What Else You Are Required to Do
In addition to following the terms and conditions set forth in the order, you may also be ordered to do certain things. For example, if you are the family breadwinner, you may be ordered to keep paying certain bills or pay child support, even if you are kicked out of your house and lose custody of your children. Restraining orders can also grant the protected person control of certain things like the family car, a computer, or bank accounts. Make sure you adhere to the order and relinquish control over any items or accounts the victim is entitled to. A restraining order can also order you to do things like attend a batterer's treatment program, drug and alcohol treatment, or even counseling.
How Will the Order Affect Your Rights?
As a condition of many California restraining orders, you may be required to sell or relinquish to local law enforcement any guns you have and be prohibited from possessing firearms for the duration of the order. Your custodial rights can also be affected. It is not uncommon for those subject to a restraining order to lose custody of their children. Make you understand how the order will affect your rights otherwise you could unknowingly violate it.
The Duration of the Order
It's also important to know how long you will be subject to the restraining order. As stated above, restraining orders have different durations. Emergency protective orders are only good for five to seven days. Temporary restraining orders can last until you've had your court date, typically a few weeks. Restraining orders issued after hearings can last up to five years, and they can be renewed. Don't make the mistake of forgetting about or misplacing the order. Emergency and temporary restraining orders can be issued without you being present. But you have a right to a hearing to tell your side of the story before a longer-term restraining order is issued. Make sure you have an attorney attend this hearing with you.
A restraining order can affect you in many ways. It's important to always follow your order word for word, but also speak with an experienced California domestic violence defense attorney if you have a restraining order. An attorney might be able to challenge the issuance or renewal of an order. Because the penalties for violating a restraining order are harsh, you should always explore your defense options.
Facing domestic violence charges can be overwhelming, but experienced Visalia area criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens can help you navigate the process of defending your rights and clearing your name. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we can help you build a strategic defense to fight your charges. Attorney Martens has practiced criminal defense for over ten years and knows how to defend your rights. Contact our Visalia or Hanford offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.