If a member of your family or household accuses you of committing a domestic violence offense, aside from reporting the incident to the police (which can start criminal action against you), they can also petition to have a restraining order issued in your name. A restraining order is granted by the court and contains a list of things you can and cannot do as long as the order remains in effect.
When the petitioner files for the order, you will have an opportunity to present your side of the story at a hearing. During this part of the process, it's important to fully articulate your case and present a compelling challenge to the petitioner's claims, as having a restraining order in your name can have profound effects on your life.
How Does the Restraining Order Process Start?
When a family or household member claims they are a victim of domestic abuse or are in danger of becoming one, they can go to the court and ask them to issue a restraining order against you. This order is considered an added level of protection for the alleged victim to prevent them from suffering any further harm.
Your household or family member's petition will include a statement about why they feel a restraining order should be issued in your name. If the judge believes you present a danger to the petitioner, they will grant a temporary restraining order (TRO). The TRO will prohibit you from engaging in certain activities, such as owning a gun or going to a place where the petitioner might be. It can remain in effect for up to 25 days or until the scheduled hearing for a "permanent" restraining order.
After the TRO is granted, you will be served with the restraining order papers. The documents will contain a date and time for you to show up for a court hearing. You also have the opportunity to file an answer. This allows you to submit a statement to the judge telling your side of the story. Your response does not excuse you from showing up for your hearing; it merely gives you a chance to refute the claims against you before going to court. If you want to challenge the restraining order, you must attend the scheduled hearing.
What Happens at the Restraining Order Hearing?
Both you and the person seeking the restraining order must attend the hearing to present your sides of the story. If you do not show up, the judge can issue the order without giving you a chance to challenge it. A permanent restraining order can be in effect for 1 to 5 years, which means if you fail to attend your hearing, you can be prohibited from engaging in certain activities for a long time without ever having had the chance to fight the claims.
If the petitioner does not go to the hearing, the temporary restraining order will end.
The actual restraining order hearing process may vary from court to court, but it generally involves the judge asking questions of both you and the petitioner. It's important to answer truthfully, but note that, if you're also involved in a domestic violence criminal case, anything you say at the hearing can be used against you at that trial. This is why it's crucial to have an attorney on your side. They can guide you through the process and advise you on how to respond to questions.
Any witnesses you or the petitioner has may also be asked to testify at the hearing.
After the judge hears from both sides, they can do any of the following:
- Grant the restraining order
- Deny the restraining order
- Grant some of the requested conditions
- Postpone the case
- Ask for additional information
If the restraining order is granted, there will be certain things you can and cannot do. If you violate the conditions, you could be arrested.
Have you been accused of a domestic violence offense or restraining order violation in Bakersfield? Call Koenig Law Office at (661) 338-5353 or submit an online contact form for experienced defense.