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Defense for a Restraining Order Violation

by Shelby Wall

Receiving a restraining order is an emotional, stressful experience. For whatever reason, someone who was formerly close to you decided to seek a protective order against you. The local court in Orange County, California, granted their request, and now you must ensure you don’t violate it.

While you may have the best intentions to ensure you don’t break the law, sometimes accidents happen. Here’s what you need to know about restraining order violations.

What Is a Restraining Order?

Courts grant these orders to people at risk of being stalked, hurt, harassed, or abused by another person. There are four primary types of protective orders in California: 

  • Domestic Violence
  • Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse
  • Civil Harassment
  • Workplace Violence

All four orders protect people in various situations. For instance, a court may order a domestic violence restraining order between two former partners or spouses. A civil harassment restraining order is appropriate when there isn’t an intimate relationship but interpersonal problems exist, like between neighbors or former roommates. 

A protective order can be temporary or permanent. Temporary orders last up to 25 days, while permanent orders last several years with the potential for renewal.

How Would Someone Violate a Protective Order?

Someone can violate a restraining order intentionally or entirely by accident. An intentional violation includes taking specific actions like:

  • Calling or texting the person
  • Stopping by the individual’s home or workplace to talk to them
  • Sending the person letters 
  • Asking a third party to speak with the protected person on your behalf
  • Reaching out to the person via social media
  • Threatening or intimidating a protected person in some way

However, not all restraining order violations are intentional. It is possible to unintentionally violate a protective order without meaning to. Examples of accidental or unintentional violations include:

  • Being at the same restaurant at the same time as the protected person, without knowing they would be there
  • Running into a protected person at a shopping center
  • Talking to a mutual friend or relative about the person, and they repeat what was said to the individual
  • Accidentally sending the protected person an email or text message meant for someone else

There are many ways someone may violate a restraining order, whether they mean to or not. If the protected person reports the incident to the police, you may face criminal charges, even if you had no intention of harming them.

What Are the Penalties for Violating a Restraining Order?

In California, the courts consider violating a protective order a “wobbler” offense. A wobbler offense can result in either a misdemeanor or felony charge, depending on the context and circumstances of the violation.

Misdemeanor charges can result in a fine of up to $1,000 and a year in jail or probation. If the person has previously violated the restraining order, a second charge can result in another misdemeanor or a felony, including a fine of up to $10,000 and three years in county jail. 

Defense for a Restraining Order Violation in Orange County, CA

Ronald G. Brower is an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you if you’re facing a charge of violating a protective order in Orange County, California. Schedule a consultation today to get started on your defense.

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