What Happens If You Violate A Domestic Violence Restraining Order?
If you’ve been accused or convicted of domestic violence, you probably have a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO) against you. Depending on the type of restraining order, it may be in effect for a few days or up to five years. Regardless of how long the restraining order is in place, it is a crime for you to knowingly violate any terms of the order while it is in effect.
Punishment For Violating A Restraining Order
California law states that any intentional and knowing violation of a protective order (which includes DVROs) is a misdemeanor. It is punishable by a fine up to a thousand dollars, up to a year in county jail, or both.
However, depending on the exact circumstances of how a restraining order is violated, the punishment can be more severe. The court will consider factors including:
- Whether or not it’s your first violation
- Whether the victim suffered any injuries
If you violate the order multiple times, and the victim suffers any injuries, you can be convicted of a felony. If convicted, you can be punished with any or all of the following:
- Up to a year in county jail
- Court fines and penalties
- Paying victim restitution for any counseling and/or medical services that the victim reasonably incurred in connection with your offense
- Mandatory counseling services
- Loss of your right to keep and purchase firearms
The courts typically have a very low tolerance for anyone who violates domestic violence restraining orders, and judges will do everything in their power to ensure the safety of victims. If they feel that it’s safer for a victim if you’re in jail, they won’t hesitate to make that happen.
Defending Against Restraining Order Violation Charges
There are several ways a criminal defense attorney can help defend you against charges that you’ve violated the terms of a restraining order.
The most common defenses are:
You didn’t know about the DVRO: For both emergency protective orders and temporary restraining orders, the victim can acquire them without your knowledge. You can’t intentionally violate an order that you don’t know exists.
You didn’t intentionally violate the order: If the protective order against you states that you can’t have any communication with the victim, and you accidentally call, text, or email them, you probably won’t be charged. Similarly, if you and the victim show up at the same place and time by coincidence, that’s not a crime.
You’ve been falsely accused of violating the order: Whether out of anger, fear, or another emotion, a victim may falsely accuse you of violating your restraining order in the hope that you will be punished.
Always Talk To A Lawyer First
The most important thing to do if you have a domestic violence restraining order against you is to follow the terms of the order exactly. The second most important thing to do is to always speak with a lawyer first if there’s any trouble or misunderstanding while the order is in effect.
Here at Quinnan Law, we’ve seen many cases where, instead of contacting an attorney, someone with a restraining order against them tried to explain or excuse their actions to the police or court and ended up in more trouble.
To learn more or to get help with your own case, please contact our offices today.
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