You’ve had a restraining order issued against you, and you’re concerned about breaking it. It is a crime in California to violate a court-ordered restriction, regardless of what the court calls it: protective, stay-away, TRO, or restraining order. A violation can result in fines and jail time, so make sure you understand what you can and can’t do under your order’s terms.
If you are facing this accusation or charge, it is important that you talk to a criminal defense attorney in Orange County CA to find out what your options are. You can do so by calling Simmons Wagner, LLP at (949) 439-5857 for a consultation.
Violations of restraining orders in California
The goal of any protective order is to avoid a situation that could lead to more crimes or altercations. The order attempts to create space or a buffer between you and any incidents by imposing restrictions on your behavior. As a result, California treats restraining order violations very seriously.
A prosecutor must prove the following in order to convict you of violating a restraining order:
- You were the subject of a valid protective order
- You were familiar with the court order and its specific terms
- You had the capacity to keep the order’s stipulations from being broken
- You willfully disobeyed the rules
To be punished, you must willfully violate a restraining order
In a restraining order case, one of the most difficult things for a prosecutor to prove is that your actions were “willful.” To act willfully, you must have done so on purpose. In the case of a restraining order, this means that you had to have intentionally broken the terms of your specific order in order to face legal consequences.
A skilled criminal defense attorney in Orange County CA can look into the circumstances surrounding your alleged violation of a protective order to show that you did not willfully violate the terms. For example, you may be accused of coming too close to someone you’re not supposed to interact with, but what if you only accidentally were in the same shopping center at the same time? You should not be punished for going shopping when you were unaware that the other party would be present, according to a lawyer.
It is a misdemeanor to violate the terms of a restraining order
A violation of a protective order is a misdemeanor offense in California. If you are found guilty of a breach, you might face the following penalties:
- A year in county prison
- A $1,000 fine
The severity of your penalty will be determined by the circumstances of the case, and judges may choose to sentence you to misdemeanor probation rather than jail time.
A second or subsequent breach of a court order might result in heavier penalties. If you violate the provisions of a protection order for the second time, prosecutors in California may prosecute you with a crime. This could result in up to three years in state prison and $10,000 in fines.
A prosecutor can prosecute you with a crime if the breach of a protection order involves violence. Other offenses committed during the breach may also result in separate prosecution. The best way to understand how restraining order rules apply to you and your life is to speak with an expert criminal defense attorney in Orange County CA. You can do so by calling Simmons Wagner, LLP at (949) 439-5857 for a consultation.