Last updated 11/19/2019
In most states, including California, protective order laws often come into play in domestic violence cases. Such court orders state that an abusive spouse, for example, may not come within a stated distance of a named individual for a period of time. In California, protective orders (also called "restraining orders") may be in place for up to three years but may be made permanent in some cases.
The court can order law enforcement within its jurisdiction to protect you and your immediate family members who live with you. Sometimes the court will protect family members who live reasonably close to your home.
If the defendant does not follow the order, call the police immediately. The restrained person can be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor, a felony, or a contempt of court. Taking or concealing a child in violation of the order may be a felony and punishable by confinement in state prison, a fine, or both. Traveling across state or tribal boundaries with the intent to violate the order may be punishable as a federal offense under the Violence Against Women Act.
The basic provisions of California protective order laws are listed in the table below. See Domestic Violence: Orders of Protection and Restraining Orders for more information.
|Activity Addressed by Order||
|Duration of Order||
|Penalty for a Violation of Order||
|Who May Apply for Order||
|Can Fees Be Waived?||
|Order Transmission to Law Enforcement||
|Civil Liability for Violation of Order||
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
While California protective orders can be used to protect individuals facing domestic violence, it's important to note that they are not limited to those situations. For example, courts can issue protective orders if someone is the victim of stalking or other forms of harassment from strangers. Whatever the situation, you should always consider at least speaking with an expert before taking action. A criminal law attorney in California can help you understand how protective orders work.
Contact a qualified attorney.