If you’ve had a California restraining order filed against you there are certain limitations to what you can and cannot do. A restraining order is basically a legal way of infringing on some of your legal rights. A restraining order can prohibit you from contacting certain people or going to certain places. You have to remain aware of your surroundings and keep old habits in check. What happens, though, when you violate your restraining order?
How Do You Violate a Restraining Order in California?
In California, Penal Code 273.6 makes it a crime to violate the terms or conditions of a restraining order. However, there are a few elements that must be proven before you can be convicted of violating a restraining order or order of protection.
First, you must have been subject to a valid and legal restraining order. California courts have held that an order cannot be violated if it is invalid. This means that a judge or court properly issued the protective order. A protective order may be invalid if the court did not have the proper jurisdiction to issue it or if there was no proper legal basis.
Second, you must have been aware of the restraining order against you. You cannot be penalized for violating a protective order if you were legitimately unaware of it and the court did not make an effort to notify you. California requires that you are not only aware of the restraining order against you, but that you are given an opportunity to read it. You do not, however, have to have read it to know of its existence. You can be notified of a restraining order in one of three ways. The court can tell you if you are present when it is ordered or a law enforcement officer can personally deliver it to you. You can also be notified in person by a police officer who is called on a reported violation.
Finally, you must have intentionally violated the order. This means that you willfully and purposefully violated a term or condition of a restraining order against you. Accidental violations generally don’t lead to criminal penalties. Let’s say, for example, that your ex-spouse has a restraining order against you. The restraining order prohibits you from being within 100 feet of your ex. If you purposefully went to his or her home to see them, that would be an intentional violation.
If, however, you happened to accidentally run into them at the grocery store or restaurant, that would probably not be an intentional violation. You would, however, be required to solve the violation as quickly as possible. In this scenario, that would require leaving the location or making sure that you put at least 100 feet between you and your ex. You can be arrested for an accidental violation. It will be your responsibility to show that (a) it was an accident, and (b) you took immediate steps to fix the situation and comply with the terms of the restraining order.
What is the Punishment for Violating a Restraining Order in California?
If you do intentionally violate a legal restraining order of which you have knowledge you can face criminal consequences. Violating a restraining order is generally a misdemeanor in California, especially for first offenses. If convicted, you could face up to one year in county jail, be required to pay monetary fines, or sentences to probation.
Subsequent violations of a restraining order, violations that involve firearms or threats, or violations that result in the injury of the protected party can have more severe consequences. Serious violations can be charged as felonies punishable by up to 3 years in California state prison and fines of up to $10,000.
Violating a California restraining order could also result in additional criminal charges. Stalking, criminal threats, trespassing, and vandalism are crimes that are commonly charged when a restraining order is violated.
The best way to make sure that you are not punished for violating a restraining order is to fully understand its terms and conditions. Violating a restraining order can be a serious offense, especially if a violation is willful and results in the harm of the protected person. Courts will not go lightly if they believe you purposefully ignored a court order.
Experienced California Restraining Order Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested for a restraining order violation you should not hesitate to contact an experienced Los Angeles restraining order violation defense attorney. Your attorney will make sure that your legal rights are protected and argue any defenses that may be appropriate. Contact Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Ambrosio E. Rodriguez today to learn more about what happens when you violate a restraining order.