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Defenses for Violating a Restraining Order in California

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What is a Restraining Order?

The court can order a person to do or refrain from doing something, this is known as a restraining order. A retaining order is the court’s way of legally stopping some criminal act such as stalking, sexual assault, or domestic violence.

Is Violating a Restraining Order a Crime in California?

Yes. California defines violating a restraining or protective order as failing to comply with the conditions and terms outlined in the order.

Can I Be Automatically Found Guilty of Violating a Restraining Order?

No. In order to be found guilty, the State has to prove the defendant violated the order. 

Are There Any Defenses I Can Use to Fight The Charge of Violating My Restraining Order?

Yes. Specific defenses depend on circumstances surrounding the violation.  However, there are some common defenses such as: 

  • The alleged victim made a false claim the defendant violated the restraining order.
  • The defendant didn’t know about the protective order.
  • The order is not possible for the defendant to obey.
  • The defendant accidentally violated the conditions and terms of the order.
  • The order was illegally or improperly issued.

What Is the Criminal Punishment for Violating a Restraining Order?

The punishment for violating a California restraining order depends on whether the defendant violated it before and if the victim suffered any physical injury from the violating.

The crime is considered to be a wobbler, meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. If convicted of misdemeanor of a restraining order, it is punishable by up to 1 year in jail. The prosecutor may charge the defendant with a felony, depending on the circumstances of the case. If charged with a felony, the defendant can face up to 3 years in prison.

For a felony or a misdemeanor, the defendant may also face a fine, payment of restitution to the victim, counseling services, and relinquishing any personal firearms.

Should I Contact a Lawyer about My Charge?

Yes. It’s in your best interest to talk to a criminal lawyer about fighting a restraining order violation.

Photo of page author Taelonnda Sewell

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 06-17-2016 08:53 AM PDT

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