If you are ordered to appear in court for an ex parte hearing, you might be confused. You may have never heard the term ex parte before. Even worse, you might lose an ex parte hearing or fail to appear, and you now have a domestic violence protection order. As a result, you cannot enter your home or talk to the other people that live there.
The situation outlined above is the reality of receiving an order of protection, also called a restraining order, after a domestic violence accusation. After you receive a restraining order, there will be a court hearing twenty-one days later to review the order and determine if the order should remain in place or be rescinded.
What Not to Do When Fighting an Order of Protection in California
It can seem reasonable to want to explain yourself to the other person before the court date, but such communication would violate the order. If you violate the order, you can be punished with up to three years in prison, ordered to pay fines to the court/sheriff, attend counseling, or pay restitution to the person who filed the restraining order against you. If the protected person is somehow injured while you are violating the order, even if such injury is not directly your fault, you could face additional penalties. The risk of prison time goes up if this is not your first offense.
Also, you should not destroy any evidence that you think could hurt you. Even if the destruction of evidence happens by accident, you will still look suspicious to the court. This could lead to criminal charges.
When you are fighting an order of protection in place against you, there are certain things you should avoid doing. The following are the main points to remember:
- Do not violate the order
- Do not try to contact the protected person
- Do not destroy any records
An order for protection can be the start of serious legal troubles for you. You need a skilled domestic violence defense attorney on your side to explain your rights and legal options going forward.
How to Fight an Order of Protection in California
An experienced and qualified attorney who is familiar with domestic violence orders will help you try to keep your record clear. While a permanent restraining order is not a criminal conviction, it will appear in public searches of your record and background checks. An employer, a landlord, or any member of the public can see the permanent restraining order. If the petitioner (the person seeking the order) has an attorney, it is paramount that you have an experienced local attorney that can help you determine what steps to take.
In addition, you should prepare your evidence ahead of time. The courts have a long docket, and they do not have time for play-by-play testimony. A judge will hurry you along to prevent tangents. Have records of text messages, photos, and anything you want to declare ready for the judge. Bring copies for the petitioner, as well.
Do you remember how you were served? If you were served improperly, it is possible to have the entire ex parte hearing dismissed. It is not your duty to pick up paperwork at the sheriff’s office so that you can attend a hearing. It is the petitioner’s responsibility to have you served properly.
Finally, keep in mind the burden of proof. In nearly all criminal cases, you have to be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In domestic violence ex parte hearings, however, the standard is a preponderance of the evidence. This means that the court must be convinced that it is more likely than not that the allegations are true. The court has to hear clear and convincing evidence that the petitioner’s claim is true, and the petitioner has to show that the harassment is ongoing, as well. Do not underestimate the burden the petitioner has to prove to win their case.
Contact the Experienced California Domestic Violence Attorneys at Dod Law, APC
An accusation of domestic violence is intimidating, and the team at Dod Law, APC is ready to help you. With over seventeen years of experience representing clients and navigating legal defenses, Attorney Dod believes that you deserve only the best help that comes from his firm. Attorney Dod has worked on over 6,500 cases and continues to offer passionate and expert defenses for all of his clients.