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    What Happens if You Violate a Protective Order in California?

    Posted on: July 27th, 2020 by Dod Law

    violate protective order californiaIndividuals in California can seek restraining orders from the courts for a variety of reasons, and judges may issue them for civil or criminal matters. Among the most common reasons a person may seek a restraining order is to guard herself against domestic abuse. Yet, people and businesses may also seek protection from physical abuse, threats, stalking, and harassment. 

    The Difference Between a Restraining Order and Protective Order in California

    While the terms “restraining order” and “protective order” are often used interchangeably, they mean different things legally. A civil restraining order may be granted by a family law or civil judge to protect individuals who had a close relationship with an alleged offender. These orders protect them from physical harm or other offensive behavior. A number of actions may prompt a person to seek a restraining order, such as:

    • Having their tires slashed or other property damaged by the offender
    • Receiving communications nonstop via phone calls, text, and other avenues
    • Physical acts of violence
    • Harassment at work or social events

    Criminal protective orders (CPOs) protect victims or witnesses of crimes from harm. These orders may be requested by the prosecuting attorney. Judges also have discretion to grant or deny these orders. California judges typically issue CPOs at the time of the defendant’s arraignment, or first court appearance.

    Since civil and criminal law judges issue protective and restraining orders, it is against the law to violate them. Doing so may lead to criminal penalties and a mark on your record; however, a criminal defense lawyer may be able to raise one of several defenses to challenge a charge of violating a protective or restraining order.

    Violating a Restraining or Protective Order is Contempt of Court

    Violating a criminal protective order counts as contempt of court under California Penal Code 166(a)(4). Violating a civil protective order may be prosecuted under penal code 273.6. Regardless of the type of order you’ve been charged with violating, the prosecutor must show the following to gain a conviction:

    1. There was a valid protective order in place
    2. You had knowledge of the protective order and its terms
    3. You intentionally violated the terms of the protective order

    The prosecutor must show all of the above elements beyond a reasonable doubt before the court can convict you of the offense. If you’re facing a charge of violating a protective or restraining order, it’s imperative to work with a studious defense lawyer like Attorney Dod of Dod Law to challenge the prosecution’s case against you.

    What Defenses Can My Lawyer Raise Against a Violation of a Protective or Restraining Order?

    A criminal defense lawyer like Dod of Dod Law may be able to raise one of several defenses to challenge a violation of a protective order depending on the facts of your case. Some effective strategies may include:

    • You didn’t know about the protective or restraining order. Not knowing about a particular court order is known as “lack of knowledge” in the court system. If you didn’t know the order existed, you could not have violated it knowingly.
    • You lacked the intent to violate the order. If you knew about the order but violated its terms by mistake, you could not have violated it “intentionally,” which is a required element to be found guilty of this offense. An example of this might be a person who is ordered to remain 100 feet away from his ex-wife crossing paths with her at a grocery store.
    • You were falsely accused of violating the protective or restraining order. A false accusation is another viable defense. If you can show that the victim lied about you violating his or her order of protection, it can weaken the prosecution’s case. 

    Contact a Skilled Criminal Defense Lawyer in San Diego

    When you need strong representation in a criminal case, such as a case in which you are accused of violating a protective or restraining order, you need an attorney with a strong reputation to protect your interests. Attorney Dod is that attorney.

    Dod has more than 17 years of experience challenging criminal charges throughout San Diego. He has worked on more than 6,500 criminal cases, and has a 10.0 “Superb” rating on Find out how he can help your case by calling (619) 333-5134 for a free consultation or complete our contact form

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