Also known as a protective order, a restraining order is a court order that restricts the restrained party (the “respondent”) from engaging in certain behaviors, such as coming to certain locations or having contact with certain people. However, there are several different types of restraining orders in Ventura County, which can create confusion for the “petitioner,” or the person who is trying to file the restraining order.
The Ventura domestic violence attorneys of Bamieh & De Smeth have prepared this informational guide in an effort to help readers better understand some important points about how restraining orders in Ventura County work. It covers key topics for petitioners and respondents, including:
- An explanation of the different types of restraining orders that are available in Ventura County.
- The process for filing a restraining order, including the potential outcomes of that process.
- What happens if a respondent violates a restraining order in California.
What Are the Different Types of Restraining Orders in California?
There are four different types of restraining orders in Ventura County. While each serves the same general function – restricting the actions of the respondent – they are used in different scenarios.
Family Restraining Orders – Sometimes referred to as domestic violence restraining orders, these orders are meant to restrain family members, romantic partners, and former romantic partners who commit abuse or make threats to cause harm. These types of orders provide immediate protection, but in order to obtain one, you must have a certain type of relationship with the respondent. For example, they could be your:
- Current or Ex-Boyfriend
- Current or Ex-Girlfriend
- Current or Ex-Husband
- Current or Ex-Wife
- Civil Harassment Restraining Orders – A civil harassment restraining order does not require the petitioner and respondent to have one of the family or romantic relationships described above. However, the petitioner must demonstrate to the court that his or her life or safety is endangered by the respondent. The standard of evidence is higher for civil harassment restraining orders than it is for family restraining orders, which means it requires more proof to convince the court that the order should be granted.
- Workplace Violence Restraining Orders – These orders specifically deal with violence, threats, stalking, and harassment among coworkers and employers.
- Elder Abuse Restraining Orders – These orders specifically deal with the financial exploitation, physical abuse, or emotional abuse of people aged 65 or older.
Because they are broader in scope, civil harassment restraining orders and family restraining orders are the most common types. Most restraining orders fall into one of those two categories.
Restraining orders can also be temporary or permanent. A temporary restraining order (TRO) may become permanent as a consequence of the court process, which is described in the next section.
What is the Process to Get a Restraining Order in Ventura County?
The process for filing a civil harassment or domestic violence restraining order in Ventura County unfolds in five basic steps.
- First, you must begin the process by completing and submitting the appropriate forms, which an attorney can assist you with. The forms are available from this link, which will take you to the website for the Ventura court system. The forms will require you to:
- Identify the respondent (the person you are filing the restraining order against).
- Identify the person or people you are seeking to protect with the order – for instance, yourself and your children.
- Describe the reasons you are seeking the order, such as incidents of past violence.
- Next, you must file the completed form with the court. A court employee called a clerk will schedule you for a court date, typically within 48 hours of receiving your form.
- The respondent must be notified of the upcoming hearing. However, you don’t have to personally perform this task if doing so makes you uncomfortable: as long as they are at least 18 years old, anyone can serve the respondent.
- You or your attorney must be present at the initial court hearing. It’s strongly advised that your attorney attends, because the purpose of the hearing is for the judge to determine whether your request for a TRO should be granted.
- Keep in mind that the judge’s decision will be heavily based on the information you supply on your paperwork, which you must fill out accurately and truthfully under penalty of perjury – a felony offense subject to a prison sentence of up to four years.
- The hearing can have one of three outcomes:
- The judge denies your request, and the case is over.
- The judge denies your request, but schedules another hearing. If you can provide stronger evidence at the second hearing, your request may be granted.
- The judge grants your request, which means you will be granted a TRO. In this scenario, the judge will schedule another hearing to determine whether a permanent restraining order should be granted.
It is a crime to violate a restraining order in California, which creates a strong incentive for respondents to obey the restrictions placed upon them. Depending on the situation, the violation may be prosecuted as a misdemeanor, subject to a maximum sentence of one year in jail, or as a felony, for which the offender may be sentenced to up to three years in prison.
Contact Our Ventura Domestic Violence Lawyers for Help Filing a Protective Order
If you need assistance filing a restraining order in Ventura County, or if you’ve recently been notified that someone intends to file a restraining order against you, the Ventura criminal defense lawyers of Bamieh & De Smeth can help. Our aggressive and accomplished legal team has more than 22 years of experience handling restraining orders and related matters, including domestic violence charges, stalking charges, and assault charges, in Ventura County. Our California defense attorneys also handle protective orders and other criminal matters in Santa Barbara County.
Allow our trusted California law firm to put our extensive experience to use for you and your loved ones. We are here to uphold your rights, guide your path through Ventura County’s court system, help you prepare for hearings, and, if you have been charged with a crime, fight the allegations that have been made against you. For a free and completely confidential legal consultation, call The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC right away at (805) 643-5555.