Is Violating a Restraining Order a Crime?

Grech & Packer

Restraining orders in California, or "protection orders" as they are also known, are taken very seriously. Often, they are the result of a civil or family law matter: they are commonly issued during divorce and child custody proceedings, where emotions are running high and judgment is often impaired. As the court must instruct at the time the order is issued, a violation of a protection order is no longer a civil or family law matter: it is a crime.

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Kinds of Protection Orders & Penalties

In California, there are three different kinds of protection orders: Emergency, temporary, and permanent. These are often issued sequentially, with a judge determining if an about-to-expire emergency order calls for a temporary order, or if the end of temporary order should result in a permanent one. In severe cases, a permanent order may be issued upon first filing if a judge feels that threat is serious enough. These permanent orders can last up to three years but must be scrutinized by the court for possible extension.

Penal Code 273.6 dictates the penalties sentenced to those convicted of a violation. Many of these offenses are considered misdemeanors, but like most crimes, the severity of the sentence increases with each repeat violation.

California protection order violation misdemeanor penalties can include:

  • First offense - up to one year in jail and $1000 in fines
  • Second offense (within one year) - up to three years in county jail
  • Second offense (within seven years) - up to one year in jail and $1000 in fines

As you can see, the time window of repeat offenses is also a critical factor. Please also note that these are only misdemeanor offenses. Incidents of assault or battery can make these offenses a felony. In some cases, treatment, probation, and restitution to women's shelters can also result from your violation, whether it is a felony or misdemeanor. Call our firm to find out what penalties you might be facing for your protection order violation.

I've been charged—what should I do?

Whether you are being held or have made bail or probation, the most important factor following a protection order violation is that you do not contact the person who has the order against you. This will only complicate matters further and could result in more charges.

If you have been charged with a protection order violation, then it is imperative that you contact a skilled Riverside criminal defense attorney. At the Law Offices of Grech & Packer, our team is prepared to walk you through your legal options and make sure that your rights are protected.

Call us today at (951) 291-0105 to schedule a case evaluation.