What Is a Restraining Order?

 A restraining order — also called a protective order — is issued to protect someone from being threatened, harassed, stalked, or abused by another individual.

The individual seeking protection can label multiple protected persons in their restraining order, such as other members of their household.

What Can Restraining Orders Force You to Do?

When a protective order is granted against you, it can alter your life in several ways, depending on the order’s provisions. For example, some orders prevent the restrained person from contacting the protected individual by phone or email.

Stay Away Orders prohibit restrained persons from coming within a certain distance of the protected person (typically 50-100 yards). This could be extremely difficult for those with children since you won’t be able to come within the designated distance of any important places they must go to regularly, like their school.

Some orders are even more restrictive and forceful, requiring you to be removed from your home with only the clothes on your back and a few personal belongings.

Other Restrictions You Must Obey

Standard terms you might have to follow in a restraining order include but are not limited to:

  • Forfeiting your right to own a firearm
  • Paying child support, spousal support, or specific bills
  • Completing a batterer intervention program
  • Abiding by specific child custody and visitation orders
  • Being unable to make significant purchases that could affect you or the protected person.

Types of Restraining Orders

Depending on your case, you might have one of four restraining orders against you. These include:

  • Domestic Violence Orders – These are for people allegedly abused by someone who has a close relationship with them, such as a spouse or immediate family member.
  • Elder Abuse Orders – These are filed against those accused of mentally, physically, or financially abusing someone over 65 years old or an individual with a debilitating mental condition.
  • Civil Harassment Orders – These are filed against those accused of stalking, harassing, or abusing someone they are not in a close relationship with.
  • Workplace Restraining Orders – If an employer believes someone is a threat to the safety of their company or employees, they might file this order.

Each type of order offers certain levels of protection and can be issued temporarily, permanently, or for emergency purposes if police feel the alleged victim is in immediate need of protection.

Temporary and emergency orders could be in place until the court can set a date for the initial hearing where a judge decides if a restraining order should be made permanent. Permanent orders, as stated, could remain in effect for up to five years.

I Have a Restraining Order Against Me. What Are My Rights?

When you’ve been served a restraining order, the best thing you can do is stay calm. You have rights, and you should use them to ensure you have the best chance of removing the order against you.

Your Right to An Attorney

First and foremost, you have a right to legal representation. Your lawyer can guide you through each step of the process of lifting your restraining order and let you know your available options.

Your Right to Remain Silent

The best thing you can do to achieve a desirable outcome is to exercise your right to remain silent and don’t reach out to the person who filed the restraining order. Anything you do or say can be used against you to prove your guilt further, and contacting the alleged victim to “make amends” can only do more harm than good. Let your attorney do the talking for you.

Your Right to Respond to the Restraining Order

By “responding” to your order, we don’t mean using your voice or contacting the alleged victim. We mean preparing and filing an official response form that states that you disagree with the order made against you. This is your initial attempt to share your side of the story. Your attorney can review this form and ensure it is filed correctly.

What if I’ve Been Falsely Accused?

A restraining order based on false pretenses damages your reputation and limits your rights. Believe it or not, there are numerous reasons why people file false restraining orders. When a relationship becomes strained and kids are involved, a toxic partner might play the victim to gain the court’s favor.

By taking advantage of the system, you could be painted as the abuser in the judge’s eye and lose visitation rights with your children, among other harsh consequences. Although receiving a restraining order based on a lie can cause emotions to run high, you should stay calm.

While false restraining orders are harmful to your reputation, they are also illegal — and an attorney can gather evidence that clears your name, effectively removing the restraining order.

What Happens if I Violate a Restraining Order?

While you may disagree with the restraining order, it’s vital to your case that you follow it until you have a chance to respond. Your restraining order may only be temporary until your hearing.

This means that your reputation is still salvageable, and your attorney can collect evidence that proves your innocence. However, violating the terms of your order only hurts your chances of receiving a favorable outcome and could result in harsh punishment through jail time and fines.

 Will a Restraining Order Go on My Record?

If the judge grants a restraining order against you, it will appear on your record. With this on your record, you’ll find it very difficult to search for a job, housing, or navigate other areas of your life. The court also won’t rule in your favor during custody hearings if you have children.

How to Get a Restraining Order Dismissed in California

Receiving notice of a restraining order doesn’t mean your future is over, and you can still have it dismissed at your hearing. To have a chance at winning your restraining order hearing, you must do the following:

  • Read Your Restraining Order’s Terms – As stated, the first thing you should do is carefully read the terms of your order and follow them to avoid any violations.
  • Hire an Attorney – You might not have much time to prepare for your hearing. The sooner you retain an attorney, the longer you have to craft your defense and the better prepared you’ll be.
  • Gather Evidence – Your attorney will need as much evidence as you can give. Turn over any text messages, videos, receipts, and a list of potential witnesses that could help clear your name.
  • Fill Out & File a Response Form – Exercise your right to respond to the restraining order by filing a response form that expresses your disagreement with the order.
  • Attend Your Court Hearing – Show up to your hearing on time. Failing to attend your hearing will prevent you from sharing your side of the story, and the judge will likely make an unfavorable ruling, granting a permanent restraining order.

Morris Law is Dedicated to Clearing Your Name

 A permanent restraining order issued to an innocent citizen is detrimental to their reputation. Whether it was a nasty tactic by your ex to get a leg up in custody hearings or you’ve been otherwise wrongfully accused, the system might not have your back. However, a restraining order lawyer will.

Seth Morris is an esteemed criminal defense attorney serving the entire Bay Area, including Alameda County. His dedication to justice and ability to uncover the truth has helped countless clients achieve favorable results. Let Seth Morris  at Morris Law help clear your name. Contact us today by calling 510-225-9955.