Most people are aware that domestic violence victims and people facing civil harassment can be issued restraining orders to protect them from their aggressors. What many may not know is the process of filing for these orders, the burden of proof needed, when (or if) to get one, and the restraining order rules in California.
What is a Restraining Order?
Restraining orders (or protective orders) are court orders that can protect you from physical or sexual abuse, harassment, stalking, or threats. When you take out a restraining order, you become the “protected person” and the one the order is against becomes the “restrained person.” “Protected persons” are any other people included in and protected by the restraining order.
What Do Restraining Orders Do?
Restraining orders can include the following:
Personal Conduct Orders
These orders stop specific acts against you or anybody else named in your restraining order. The person restrained is ordered to stop or refrain from the following:
- Contacting, calling, or sending any type of messages
- Sexually assaulting
- Attacking, striking, or battering
- Destroying personal property
- Disturbing the peace of all protected persons
Stay Away Orders
These orders keep the restrained person a stipulated distance away from the person protected, their place of residence, their place of work, their child’s schools and places of childcare, their vehicles, and any other essential places they frequent.
Residence Exclusion (Move-Out or Kick-Out) Orders
These orders require the restrained person to move out or leave your place of residence immediately and take only their personal belongings and clothing until the court hearing. These orders are only issued in domestic violence or dependent adult/elder abuse cases.
Kinds of Restraining Orders:
California has the following four kinds of restraining orders:
Domestic Violence Orders:
The most common reason for getting a restraining order against someone is when they violate domestic violence laws. This includes harassment, burglary, terrorist threats, assault, criminal trespass, stalking, kidnapping, lewdness, false imprisonment, criminal mischief, or sexual assault.
In California, your abuser must be a spouse, former spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, live-in companion, or a parent of your child to meet the state’s definition of domestic violence.
You can file for these orders if someone has abused you with whom:
- You have a close relationship with (e.g., Married, registered domestic partners, separated, divorced, dating, used to date, live together, used to live together as more than roommates, or have a child together)
- You are closely related (e.g., parent, child, sibling, in-law, etc.)
Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse Orders
You can file for these orders if:
- You are 65 or older, or
- You are aged 18 to 64 years and have physical or mental disabilities that keep you from doing normal activities of protecting yourself; and
- You are a victim of physical or financial abuse, neglect, abandonment, physical or mental mistreatment, or deprivation of essential things that you need by your caregiver.
Civil Harassment Orders
You can file for these orders if someone harasses, stalks, abuse, or threatens you but you are not as close to them as is required under California domestic violence cases. For instance, a roommate, neighbor, or distant family members.
Workplace Violence Orders
As an employer, you can file for these orders to protect an employee who has suffered severe harassment, stalking, violence, or credible violence threats at the workplace.
Types of Restraining Orders
There are three types of restraining orders:
- Emergency Protective Order (EPO): Only a law enforcement officer can ask for an EPO by calling a judge directly. They can last up to seven days, which is enough time to file for a TRO.
- Temporary Restraining Order (TRO): These orders typically last for 20 to 25 days, which is enough time until a scheduled court hearing date.
Permanent Restraining Order: A judge issues these orders during a court hearing after they are satisfied that you need protection. They last up to five years, and you can ask for another restraining order when yours runs out.
If you need help or want to learn more about restraining order rules in California, you can seek out the services of a family law attorney, local legal aid agencies, shelters, or domestic violence help centers.