Criminal Defense

What is a Civil Harassment Restraining Order?

December 20, 2022 by Mikel Rastegar in Criminal Defense  
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When I Can File for Restraining Order?

When someone is subjected to illegal violence, a genuine threat of violence, or a knowing and purposeful pattern of behavior that significantly scares, irritates, or harasses and serves no legitimate purpose, the court may issue a CHRO to protect that person. A Civil Harassment Restraining Order may be put out for any unwanted behavior that does not include physical harm.

A restraining order against someone in California can be filed if:

  • They have bothered, harassed, or otherwise upset the peace of the protected people.
  • They have had direct or indirect personal, phone, electronic, or written contact with the protected individuals or have tried to do so;
  • They have come within 100 yards (usually) of the protected person’s home or place of work.

The individual seeking the restraining order cannot be the target’s current or former partner or immediate family member. A roommate, neighbor, or casual friend might fall within the scope of a protection order because of your familiarity and trust with them.

The court will not issue a Civil Harassment Restraining Order unless the person requesting the order (the “Petitioner”) can show a substantial likelihood and credible danger that the harassing or other banned conduct will persist. The court may give a restraining order for up to 5 years if the Petitioner can establish this with “clear and compelling” evidence. A Civil Harassment Restraining Order cannot be obtained after a simple fight or verbal conflict with a roommate, neighbor, or stranger. Consult a lawyer familiar with restraining orders if you need help pursuing or fighting against one.

Legal Consequences of a Restraining Order.

After a hearing, a court will issue a restraining order, either a CHRO or a DVRO. The issuing of the restraining order will be visible in a standard criminal record check. This information will be placed into the Criminal Law

Enforcement Telecommunications System (CLETS).

If you work for the government or are looking for a government job, or if your prospective employer has a policy of doing background checks on all applicants, you may run into this issue. Many companies automatically assume the worst about the candidate if a restraining order appears in a background check. Furthermore, if a restraining order is obtained after a hearing, the respondent loses the right to possess or buy a gun while the restraining order is in force. When this directive is broken, it is usually considered a minor crime.

Penalties For Violating a Civil Harassment Restraining Order

In California, it is a misdemeanor-level crime to break a civil harassment restraining order. If you are found guilty under PC 273.6, you could be:

  • Fines of up to $1,000 or
  • Up to a year behind bars

If somebody was hurt due to the violation, however, the penalties are:

  • A maximum $2,000 fine, and
  • Thirty days to a year in prison

Your record will show both the restraining order and any violations. That means employers, landlords, and even immigration officials will know you have a restraining order against you. For people outside the U.S. citizens, the order could affect their ability to stay in the country. Even a minor crime on your record can make it harder for you to get a job or find a place to live.

Types of Civil Harassment Restraining Orders

Emergency Protective Order (EPO)

Only law enforcement may seek a court for an EPO. A police officer who responds to a complaint of significant violence or threat may seek a court for an emergency protection order. EPOs’ are only applicable for stalking-related civil harassment.

Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)

A court will release a temporary restraining order if you need protection before the court hearing—TROs last 20 to 25 days.

“Permanent” Restraining Order (Restraining Order After Hearing)

When you go to court for the scheduled hearing for your Temporary restraining order, the judge may issue a “permanent” restraining order. It is not ideally permanent since it lasts up to five years only.

Criminal Protective Order or “Stay-Away” Order

The criminal court often issues a criminal protection order against the defendant that is applicable throughout the criminal case and for three years if the defendant is found guilty or pleads guilty.

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