PC 273.6

Violation of Restraining Order

Under California Penal Code 273.6[1] it is illegal to intentionally violate the terms of a judge issued restraining order against you. CA Penal Code 273.6 pertains to the four different types of restraining orders in the court system:

  1. Domestic Violence Restraining Order: used as a means to protect those who are victims of violence during an intimate relationship
  2. Civil Harassment Restraining Order: used as a means to protect those who are victims of violence with people who they are not intimate with, such as a neighbor or co-worker
  3. Elder/Dependent Adult Abuse Restraining Order: used as a means to protect those who are 65 or older, or people who suffer from a myriad of disabilities
  4. Workplace Violence Restraining Order: used as a means to protect an employee from violence at their workplace

If you intentionally violate the terms of any of the above restraining orders then you could be found guilty of CA Penal Code 273.6.

In order to be found guilty of CA Penal Code 273.6 the prosecutor must prove the following elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The judge issued a legal restraining order against you
  2. You were aware of the restraining order
  3. You intentionally violated the terms of that order

If this is your first restraining order violation then the case will likely be tried as a misdemeanor. If you are convicted of the offense then you will:

  • Up to $1,000 in fines
  • Up to 1-year in county jail

However, if this is your second charge of violating a restraining order and it involves violence or a threat of violence then the prosecutor can charge the crime as either a felony or misdemeanor. If you are convicted of the crime as a misdemeanor then the punishment is the same as the one mentioned above.

If you are convicted of CA Penal Code 273.6 as a felony then you could face:

  • Up to 3-years in state prison
  • Up to $10,000 in fines

Gun Enhancements

If there is a restraining order against you then it is illegal for you to possess, own, acquire, or purchase a firearm during the entirety of the order against you. If you possess a gun during the term of the restraining order against you then you will face a misdemeanor with the same punishments as mentioned above.

However, if you are caught buying, attempting to buy, or receiving a firearm during the term of the restraining order against you then the prosecutor has the option of charging you with a felony or a misdemeanor. If convicted, the punishments are the same as those mentioned above.

Prosecuting CA Penal Code 273.6

It’s imperative to have a full understanding of the law in order to know how the prosecutor will attempt to prove you’re guilty of the offense. As previously stated, in order to be convicted of violating a restraining the prosecutor must prove the three elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The judge issued a legal restraining order against you
  2. You were aware of the restraining order
  3. You intentionally violated the terms of that order

The first element of the crime requires that a judge issued a legal restraining order against you. This simply means that the prosecutor must prove that the restraining order is legal and pertains to your jurisdiction. If the restraining order is legal and you violate the terms of that order then the prosecution is that much closer to proving your guilt.

The second element of the crime requires that you had knowledge of the restraining order. This requirement can be met through a few different means:

  1. Orally by a judge in court
  2. In writing by a third-party
  3. Verbally by an officer

If the prosecutor cannot prove that you were made aware of the restraining order then you will likely not be convicted of CA Penal Code 273.6.

The third element requires that you knowingly violated the terms of the restraining order. If you randomly run into the party who filed the restraining order against you then you are not in violation of the terms, just as long as you quickly leave and do not try to communicate. However, if you choose to ignore the terms of the violation then you could be found guilty of CA Penal Code 273.6.

Defending CA Penal Code 273.6

There are several legal defenses that a skilled criminal defense attorney will explore to prove your innocence of the CA Penal Code 273.6 charges. The first approach that your criminal defense lawyer will look into is whether or not the restraining order is legal. Even though a judge is required to issue the restraining order, he/she might not do so properly, or might not have the proper authority. If the restraining order is not valid then you are not required to follow the terms.

The next legal defense your lawyer will explore is whether you knew about the restraining order. If you were never notified of the restraining order against you then you cannot be guilty of the offense. It then becomes your attorneys job to prove to the courts that you were never made aware. This defense is more likely to be successful if you were not in attendance at the time of the restraining order being read. If you were present then this defense is highly unlikely to work.

If you were unaware that you were violating the terms of the restraining order then you should not be convicted of the offense. It’s important to note that only the judge has the power to lift the restraining order. If the person who requested the restraining order asks you to violate the terms of that order then you can still be found guilty of CA Penal Code 273.6.

Because of the nature of the crime it is not uncommon for the protected party to falsely accuse you of violating the order. Simply put, you can still be charged for CA Penal Code 273.6 for doing nothing wrong but having the protected party say that you did. This legal defense requires ample investigation but it likely to be successful.

If you are facing CA Penal Code 273.6 charges then it’s imperative to talk to a criminal defense lawyer with experience handling these types of crimes. Seppi Esfandi is a Certified Specialist in Criminal Law and has over 13 years of experience representing his clients for a myriad of crimes, including Violating a Restraining Order.

 

References

[1] (a) Any intentional and knowing violation of a protective order, as defined in Section 6218 of the Family Code, or of an order issued pursuant to Section 527.6, 527.8, or 527.85 of the Code of

Civil Procedure, or Section 15657.03 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.

(b) In the event of a violation of subdivision (a) that results in physical injury, the person shall be punished by a fine of not more than two thousand dollars ($2,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail for not less than 30 days nor more than one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment. However, if the person is imprisoned in a county jail for at least 48 hours, the court may, in the interest of justice and for reasons stated on the record, reduce or eliminate the 30-day minimum imprisonment required by this subdivision. In determining whether to reduce or eliminate the minimum imprisonment pursuant to this subdivision, the court shall consider the seriousness of the facts before the court, whether there are additional allegations of a violation of the order during the pendency of the case before the court, the probability of future violations, the safety of the victim, and whether the defendant has successfully completed or is making progress with counseling.

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