Domestic Violence

Before the Case

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IF YOU NEED PROTECTION RIGHT NOW, you should call 911. You can also call:

  • a local law enforcement agency.
  • a domestic violence shelter.
  • the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.

Before you go to court to start a Domestic Violence Restraining Order case, you can learn more about the courts and your situation.

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There are different kinds of restraining orders. Each type is used for a different situation.

A person may qualify for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order if there is both:

  • a close relationship between that person and the person he or she wants protection from.
  • actual or threatened abuse.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This section is for people who live together or have had a relationship. If you need protection from someone else, learn about civil harassment restraining orders.

The person seeking protection can ask the court for the following orders:

1. Personal Conduct Orders.
These are Orders to stop specific acts against everyone named in the Restraining Order. This Order can stop the restrained person from doing the following things:

  • Contacting.
  • Sending any message (including email, text, or social media).
  • Molesting.
  • Attacking.
  • Striking.
  • Stalking.
  • Threatening.
  • Sexually assaulting.
  • Battering.
  • Harassing.
  • Telephoning.
  • Destroying personal property.
  • Disturbing the peace of the person seeking protection.

2. Stay-Away Orders.
These are Orders to keep the restrained person a certain distance away from:

  • The person seeking protection.
  • Where he or she lives.
  • His or her place of work.
  • His or her child's school or place of child care.
  • His or her vehicle.
  • Other important places where he or she goes.

3. "Kick-Out" Orders.
These are Orders telling the person to be restrained to move out from where the person seeking protection lives, and to take only clothing and personal belongings until the court hearing.

Get information about other kinds of Orders a judge may grant in a domestic violence case.

For the person asking for protection, he or she should be ready to NOT SEE OR TALK TO the person to be restrained while the Restraining Order is in effect.

NOTE 1: There are also Emergency Protective Orders.
These are Orders requested by a police officer which go into effect immediately. They are temporary (up to 7 days).

NOTE 2: "Ex Parte" Restraining Orders may be issued until the hearing.
These are temporary Orders that remain in effect only from the date of filing for protection until the court hearing. No long-term restraining orders can be issued without a hearing.

For the person to be restrained, the consequences of having a Court Order against him or her can be very severe.

  • He or she will not be able to go to certain places or to do certain things.
  • He or she might have to move out of his or her home.
  • It may affect his or her ability to see his or her children.
  • He or she will not be allowed to own or possess firearms or ammunition. He or she may have to turn in
    or sell any firearms and ammunition they have now, and may not be able to buy a gun while the restraining order is in effect.

If the person to be restrained violates the Orders, he or she may go to jail, or pay a fine, or both.

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A person who gets a Restraining Order can ask a police officer, sheriff's deputy, or other law enforcement officer to protect him or her from actual or threatened violence. Law enforcement can also protect anyone else named in the Restraining Order.

However, the protected person must give copies of the Order to law enforcement so the police know about it. Then, the police can act if violations of the Restraining Order are reported.

The protected person may also give copies to:

  • their landlord.
  • the protected person's residence or workplace.
  • the protected child's school and/or child care provider.
  • financial institutions if there is an Order about control of an account.
  • health care providers or insurance companies.
  • others that are affected by the Court Order.

Restraining Orders can last for as little as a week, or can be extended for up to five years. After five years, the order can be extended if needed. As long as the Order is still valid, law enforcement can make the restrained person do what the Order says.

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The person seeking protection will need to show the court "reasonable proof of past act or acts of abuse." (California Family Code, Section 6300)

  • "Reasonable proof of past act or acts of abuse" requires the victim to state:
    • What the past acts of abuse were, and
    • When they occurred.
  • The victim may attach any verification or evidence of such past acts of abuse such as:
    • Photographs of injuries
    • Police reports
    • Emergency Protective orders previously issued, etc.

It is best if this proof is prepared before starting the court process.

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IF YOU NEED PROTECTION RIGHT NOW, you should call 911. You can also call:

  • or a local law enforcement agency.
  • a domestic violence shelter.
  • the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.

Handling a court case can be difficult and confusing. For this reason, many people consider getting expert help.

For free and low-cost legal help in California:

Go to the California Courts website for help from:

  • Self-help services.
  • Legal aid agencies.
  • Government agencies.
  • Lawyer-referral services.
  • Dispute resolution programs.

In domestic violence cases, most people need more than just legal help.
For example:

  • The people involved may have a hard time dealing with their feelings or emotions at this time.
  • They may also be worried about where they will live, how to find work, or pay for childcare.

Please know that there are people who want to help. Sometimes it takes talking to several people before the right person is found, so ask everyone what he or she recommends. Don't give up!

Some other resources or options to consider include:

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When papers are filed in a court requesting a Domestic Violence Restraining Order, the court hearing will usually be held about 21 days later.

The following timeline is offered simply to convey the information that this process has a beginning, a middle and an end. If exact details are required -- about how the days are counted, for example - it might be good to consult a lawyer.

One possible way a case might proceed...

Below is a description of the stages of a DV Restraining Order case.

A. The person seeking protection starts the paperwork:

  • Ask for an Emergency Protective Order, if needed.
  • Get forms needed for a Permanent Restraining Order
  • Fill out the forms - have them checked by a court clerk.
  • File the paperwork at the court (the original plus a copy.) Receive case number and hearing date from the court clerk.

B. The person seeking protection has to make sure everyone involved receives copies of the Restraining Orders petition papers and notice of the date and place of the hearing.

  • Notice of the hearing's date and place to be served as stated on the Restraining Order.
  • Also remember that it is necessary to prove that all of the paperwork was received. ("Proof of Service")
  • If you are not sure what to do, you may want to consult a lawyer.

C. Both the person seeking protection and the person to be restrained need to gather together the "evidence" that will be needed in court - photographs of injuries, or police records, for example.

D. The person to be restrained may file an "answer" at the court at least 5 (five) days before the hearing.

E. It is possible that people - family, friends or neighbors - may be asked to come to the court hearing to answer questions the judge might have.

F. The person seeking protection MUST attend the court hearing. If he or she does not show up, the case will usually be dismissed.

G. Immediately after the hearing, the person who received protection has to file the Restraining Orders After Hearing (CLETS) (Form DV-130) with the clerk's office.

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Asking the Court to help protect you will cost some money. Exact amounts will differ from case to case, from person to person, from court to court, and from year to year.

The following list of possible costs is offered simply to convey the information that this process has costs associated with it. If specific information is required, it might be good to consult a lawyer.

General costs

  • Time off work
  • Transportation to and from the courthouse
  • Telephone charges
  • Mailing costs

Getting help before the proceedings

  • Hiring a lawyer (also called an attorney), or
  • Employing the services of a legal clinic, and/or
  • Buying self-help books

Getting started with the proceedings

THERE IS NO CHARGE TO OBTAIN THESE FORMS OR TO FILE PAPERS WITH THE COURT.

THERE IS NO CHARGE FOR "SERVICE OF PROCESS" BY THE SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT IF YOU HAVE A VALID FEE WAIVER ON FILE.

Investigation and preparation stage of the proceedings

  • Getting copies of documents certified to present to the court costs money. Such documents might include:
    • Photographs of injuries;
    • Police reports;
    • Emergency Protective Orders previously issued;
    • Divorce papers - if relevant;
    • Medical or death records - if relevant;
    • School records - if relevant.

Trial or hearing stage of the proceedings

  • It is possible that there will be court reporter costs.
  • If the trial has to be postponed or continued, there might be court fees.

After the trial

  • If the protected person moves to another county in California, or another state in the United States, there may be transfer fees to be paid.