Domestic violence is abuse that is punishable in both the criminal and civil courts. Abuse is an act of violence perpetrated by an abuser on a victim. For the victim to be awarded a restraining order, they must share a close relationship with the abuser. Domestic violence can happen to men as well as women.
Domestic Violence Restraining Orders & Civil Harassment Orders
A domestic violence restraining order is a court order that restrains one person from abusing another person with whom they share a close relationship. Abuse includes physical violence, sexual attacks, molestation, verbal attacks, emotional distress and economic restraints . Civil harassment are requests made by those who are not sharing a close relationship.
Acts of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior involving abuse by one person against another in a domestic setting. A domestic setting is found when you and another person share a close relationship such as a marriage or cohabitation. Should you be harassed by someone whom you do not share a domestic setting, then you can file a civil harassment restraining order.
Domestic Violence Abuse
Abuse is found when a perpetrator commits one of the following acts:
- Intentionally or recklessly causes or attempts to cause bodily injury or sexual assault;
- Intentionally or recklessly causes or attempts to cause a sexual assault;
- Places a person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to that person or to another; or,
- Threatens, strikes, harasses, destroys personal property, or disturbs the peace of another.
Protect Yourself from Domestic Violence
The State of California has enacted laws addressing Domestic Violence to protect families and those who are in a close relationship with others from abuse and acts of violence.
Domestic Violence Arrest
When you are arrested for a charge of domestic violence you will be booked at the Sacramento County jail. You will be able to post bail immediately unless you were charged with violating a court protective order, in which case you will be held over to appear at a bail hearing before a magistrate.
Those who are held over for a bail hearing are sent to a special housing unit that is restricted to domestic violence offenders who have no gang affiliations or prior prison term. Inmates must agree to participate in an awareness program and they may be visited by their victims in a visiting area where all conversations are taped.
An attorney with the Domestic Violence Unit will review your case before you are arraigned to determine if you should be prosecuted. This determination is often based on whether or not there is evidence of a visible injury to your victim. Depending on the circumstances, your case can be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony.
Arraignment is held within 48 “court hours” (excluding Saturday, Sunday, and holidays) in the Domestic Violence Home Court five days each week except for holidays. Being arrested on a Friday and not being able to post bail means that you will staying in jail for the weekend. At your arraignment, a public defender will be assigned to represent you if you are indigent otherwise, you will have to hire an attorney should you want to be represented. At your arraignment, the magistrate will set a court date and, unless the victim objects, the court will issue a criminal order of protection.
The plea negotiation process begins at the next hearing after your arraignment. Plea negotiations are held in a judge’s chambers. If no plea agreement is reached at the first hearing, the case is continued for a second hearing. If no plea result occurs at this hearing, the case is set for trial.
After your trial and before sentencing, the court may order a presentence investigation. Orders for a presentence investigation are routinely ordered in a felony case, except where a plea agreement includes a specified state prison sentence. In misdemeanor cases, however, a presentence investigations is less common.
Domestic Violence Restraining Order
A domestic violence restraining order is a court order that protects you from abuse or threats of abuse from a person with whom you share a relationship. You need to seek protection if you, or your child, is being abused. A parent who delays or does not report abuse may not only be exposing themselves and their child to further harm, but may be jeopardizing their rights to custody. Take immediate action if you, or your child, are being abused, to protect yourself and your child.
You can seek a domestic violence restraining order against someone with whom you share a close relationship, this includes:
- Registered domestic partners,
- Divorcees or separated individuals,
- Current or former lovers,
- Live-in lovers,
- Other close relations; siblings, parents, and grandparents.
Civil Harassment Restraining Order
You can request a court order to restrain others, with whom you do not share a close relationship with, from continued abuse. A civil harassment restraining order can be used to restrain neighbors, roommates, coworkers, or more distant family members.
Effects of a Domestic Violence Restraining Order
- No contact with either you, your children, other relatives, or those who live with you.
- Move out of the house you both occupy.
- Stay away from your home, work, or your children’s schools.
- Relinquish all firearms and no possession of a firearm.
- Follow child custody and visitation orders.
- Pay child and/or partner/spousal support.
- Stay away from any of your pets;
- Pay certain bills and release and/or return personal property.
Served with a Domestic Violence Restraining Order
If you have been falsely accused of abuse and are facing a domestic violence restraining order or a civil harassment restraining order, you need to take immediate action to protect your rights. Should you not act, you may suffer the following effects:
- Limitations on where you can go or what you can do.
- Move out of your home.
- Limit your ability to see your children.
- Restrictions on your right to own or possess a handgun.
The Effect of a Domestic Violence Restraining Order on Custody Case
California Family Code §3044 requires that a California Family Court evoke the presumption that giving custody to a perpetrator of domestic violence is detrimental to the child.
Your child custody matter will be considered as domestic violence case if, within the past 5 years, one parent was convicted of domestic violence against the other parent or a court has decided that one parent committed domestic violence against the other parent, their children, or any siblings of the child. And, there are special rules which the judge must follow in awarding custody should a court decided that one parent committed domestic violence in the past five years against the other parent, their children or siblings of that child.
If the Court makes such a finding there is a rebuttable presumption that the party who perpetuated the domestic violence should not have sole or joint custody of the parties’ children. This legal presumption can be overcome and custody may be awarded to the parent who committed the domestic violence if:
- It is in the best interests of the child.
- The perpetrator has completed a 52-week batterer’s program.
- The perpetrator has not committed any other acts of domestic violence.
- The perpetrator has complied with all other court orders.
Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
Domestic violence restraining orders are issued when a victim makes a request to the court for an order to restrict an abuser’s actions. Domestic violence restraining orders are court orders which restrain one person from contacting or harassing another person
Emergency Protective Order (EPO)
An EPO, although not a domestic violence restraining order, is a protective order issued at the time of the domestic violence arrest on the request of the arresting officer. The EPO restrains the arrested person from having contact or communication with the protected person and is valid for five (5) to seven (7) days; until the person arrested for domestic battery, criminal threats or stalking has first appeared in court at the arraignment.
Criminal Protective Order (CPO)
A CPO or a “no contact order” is issued in active domestic violence case through the district attorney’s office. Once a CPO is issued, the alleged abuser cannot contact the protected person by using email, letters, notes, or a phone. A CPO is issued to a “restrained person;” someone who has already been arrested, charged, or convicted for committing a crime against a victim.
Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO)
A DVRO is obtained by submitting to a court a signed affidavit alleging facts about why you feel threatened by someone else. Once filed, a temporary DVRO, that is in effect for 10 days, will be issued. A hearing will also be set to determine if the temporary DVRO needs to be extended. You can introduce evidence of abuse or threats against you at this hearing. You should file for a DVRO if the district attorney has issued a CPO for your continued protection. Once an DVRO is issued, the restrained person must relinquish ownership of any firearms in their possession, vacate any shared-living space, avoid all contact with you, and can be picked up on suspicion of violating the DVRO. A DVRO can last up to three years. If a restrained person violates the terms of the order at any time during this period, he could be arrested, prosecuted, and sent to jail.
Stay Away Order (SAO)
A SAO is issued at the first court appearance of a domestic violence or criminal case arraignment. It is valid while the court has jurisdiction over the criminal domestic battery case. If a person is convicted of domestic battery, domestic assault or a related charge such as criminal threats or stalking, the court will have jurisdiction over the person who has suffered an arrest for domestic violence until probation has been completed. Probation in a domestic abuse case typically lasts three (3) years from the date of conviction.
Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)
A TRO is obtained upon request by a an individual who has made a domestic abuse complaint. It is not necessary for a domestic battery, domestic assault, criminal threats or stalking report to have been made with the police. However, it is common for a person who has filed a police report to also seek a TRO. If the person accused of domestic abuse, criminal threats or stalking had been involved in a dating relationship with the accuser at any time in the past, a Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO) may be obtained. If the person accused of stalking had not been involved in a dating relationship at any time in the past, a Civil Harassment Order may be sought.
A spouse cannot be forced to move out of the family residence unless the court issues a restraining order against that spouse providing for their exclusion from the residence. To seek a restraining order to exclude a spouse from his or her home you must prove an act of domestic violence has been committed by that spouse. Once determined, that spouse can then be ordered to be removed from the residence.
Domestic Violence Laws
Domestic violence laws include both criminal and civil actions which can be used to restrain an abuser from further harming a victim.
California domestic violence laws can be criminal in nature. California Penal Code §836 requires that an abuser be arrested for committing acts of Domestic Violence. This law recognizes both the danger of restraining order violations and the casual treatment by law enforcement for violations of a Domestic Violence Restraining Order. California police are now mandated to arrest offenders who violate domestic violence restraining orders.
California Penal Code §243 (e)(1) defines simple battery as intent to willfully inflict force or violence on an intimate partner. An “intimate partner” is a person who has a significant relationship with the abuser, to include: spouses, former spouses, children, former spouses, former cohabitants, or someone who the defendant is, or has, dated.
California Penal Code §243(d) defines aggravated battery is found when the defendant causes serious bodily injury to be inflicted on the person.
California Penal Code § 273.5 states that this offense is committed when a defendant willfully inflicts physical injury on an intimate partner that results in a traumatic condition. A “traumatic condition” is defined as a wound or other bodily injury, whether minor or serious, caused by the direct application of physical force.
Conviction of Domestic Battery
If you are convicted of domestic battery pursuant to California Penal Code Section 243(e)(1), you face a maximum penalty of one year in county jail, a $2,000 fine, and up to three years of probation. If probation is granted, the court will require you to successfully complete a batterer’s program for a minimum of one year.
Victims Housing Relocation Funds
California Assembly Bill 606 provides up to $2,000 in housing relocation funds for victims of Domestic Violence. Due to the fact that a victim if often financially dependent on an abuser, housing problems make it difficult for the victim to escape, especially if children are involved. Every Domestic Violence victim in California who reports acts of Domestic Violence to law enforcement is eligible for up to $2,000 to cover costs of housing relocation.
Temporary Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
California Family Code §6228 requires that law enforcement and prosecutors give victims one free copy of the Domestic Violence report within five days of being requested. This allows the victim to then have sufficient information to file for a temporary Domestic Violence Restraining Order.
California Labor Code §230 provides that an employer may not discharge, discriminate, or retaliate against an employee a victim of Domestic Violence who needs time-off from work to take action which will ensure the health, safety, or welfare of a domestic violence victim or their children.
Mutual Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
Domestic violence can be a major problem in family law cases. Acts of domestic violence often lead to one spouse filing for a domestic violence restraining order and then, possibly, the other spouse doing the same. And when both parties act out violently, mutual domestic violence restraining orders may be needed to protect both parties from each other.
The Effect of Mutual Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
Mutual domestic violence restraining orders limit the conduct of both parties in a family law matter in order to protect the peace and safety of both parties. These orders restrict the conduct of both parties which may include a “no contact order” with each other or a “peaceful contact order.”
Issuing a Mutual Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
California Family Code § 6305 provides that the “court may not issue mutual domestic violence restraining orders unless (a) both parties personally appear and each presents written evidence of abuse or domestic violence, and (b) the court makes detailed findings of fact indicating that both parties acted primarily as aggressors and that neither party acted primarily in self-defense.” This two-part rule’s application in family law cases has been further discussed in the California Court of Appeals which explained the procedural and substantive standards for issuance of mutual domestic violence restraining orders.
In Isidora M. v. Silvino M., 239 Cal.App.4th 11 (2015), the wife, Isidora, filed a request for a domestic violence restraining order against her husband, Silvino. Silvino’s responded that he did not agree to his wife’s request for a domestic violence restraining order and went on to provide evidence that Isidora had been arrested for spousal battery and was subject to a criminal protective order. However, Silvino failed to request his own domestic violence restraining order against Isidora. After an evidentiary hearing on the matter, the result was that the trial court issued a five year mutual restraining order protecting both parties from each other. Upon review, the Court of Appeals held that a trial court may issue mutual domestic violence restraining orders only if both parties have filed requests for such relief. The purpose of this rule is to give necessary notice to the opposing party and provide the opposing party with the opportunity to defend against the entry of a restraining order.
The Court of Appeals also held that a trial court may not substitute the bare fact of a guilty plea to domestic violence for detailed findings of fact indicating that a party acted as the primary aggressor and not primarily in self-defense. It was error for the trial court to issue mutual domestic violence restraining orders by relying on Isidora entered plea without first determining the facts of the case.
A restraining order protects a victim from physical or sexual abuse, threats, stalking, and harassment. The person requesting a restraining order is called the “protected person.” The person the restraining order is against, the alleged abuser, is the “restrained person.” These orders can include requests to protect others, protect pets, and to have the abuser move-out of the residence.
You may request a Domestic Violence Restraining Order to protect you from abuse committed by your spouse, former spouse, the person you are or have dated, a close relative, or a person who regularly lives in your home.
Civil Harassment Restraining Order
If you do not qualify for a domestic violence restraining order, you can file for a civil harassment restraining order. This is often used by clients seeking to protect themselves from neighbors, roommates, coworkers, or more distant family members.
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