When you’re the victim of violence, the threat of it or even the perceived threat, can become terrifying. The state of California, like other states, uses restraining orders to offer people some level of protection.
There are four types of restraining orders, and they can be implemented in three different ways. Restraining orders can be issued for domestic violence, elder abuse, civil harassment or in the workplace. These orders can be issued as either emergency, temporary or permanent.
Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
The need for a domestic violence restraining order presumes that the victim has or had a close relationship with the abuser. California defines that close relationship as including spouses and significant others. The “close relationship” is also covered by exes of either kind.
Abuse at the hands of people you live with can be considered domestic violence, as can other family members or in-laws that may not share a residence with you.
What qualifies as domestic violence for the purposes of a restraining order? Certainly, direct physical violence does. So does the credible threat of such violence. An ex who speaks to you in a menacing way may be guilty of more than just acting like a jerk –depending on what is said, they might be crossing the line and become subject to a restraining order.
All restraining orders require evidence. People who have been physically abused may have gone to the hospital, thus creating a record of their injuries. Cellphone pictures of injuries can also be used. The testimony of those who know what you are going through may also be sought.
In cases of domestic violence, the state of California waives the customary $395 fee for issuing a restraining order. If you are a victim, do not hesitate to do what is necessary for your own safety. Get help from The Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. Once you are in a safe place, you and your attorney can go to work on securing the restraining order.
Elder Abuse Restraining Orders
Our society is rightly horrified by attempts to abuse the elderly and there is a specific type of restraining order meant to protect those age 65 and up.
In these cases, the abuser should be someone younger–at least 18 years old, no older than 64. It’s also presumed that the victim has disabilities that prevent them from protecting themselves.
The reason for the latter requirement is that elder abuse can go beyond physical violence. An elderly person deprived by their caregiver of things essential to living–food, medicine, etc. –is a victim of elder abuse. A widower denied the ability to put a photo of his deceased wife on the windowsill is being put through physical torment. Depending on the disability, the victim may not be able to alleviate these sufferings on their own.
Civil harassment is similar to domestic violence, with the key distinction being the nature of the relationship between victim and abuser. Civil harassment is intended for those relationships that might not be close enough to be domestic, but have become worrisome, nonetheless.
Perhaps you and your neighbor are in some type of dispute. You’re trying to talk it through. Their response is to start making threats. When you leave for work in the morning, they begin shouting at you, acting in a menacing way, or doing anything else that rises to the level of the credible threat of violence.
You might also seek a civil harassment order if you’re being stalked. Again, if the stalking is done by an ex, it may fall more accurately under domestic violence. But stalking by anyone outside of the domestic violence circle can still be stopped with a civil harassment restraining order.
Workplace Violence Restraining Order
Are you under threat at the office? Maybe you have an angry customer whose verbal abuse is starting to get scary. They’ve gone so far as to find out where you live. You have reason to believe that the threat of violence is credible.
A key distinction with a workplace violence restraining order is that it must be initiated by the employer. You cannot request it for yourself. By this point, you may have already told your boss about the abuser’s dissatisfaction with the company. Now you need to communicate the legitimate fears you have for your safety, so your employer can help.
The above four reasons–domestic violence, elder abuse, civil harassment, and workplace violence–constitute the reasons for seeking a restraining order. The following three methods are the way these orders are implemented.
Emergency Protective Order (EPO)
These are cases where the threat of violence is not only real but considered imminent. They are most common in domestic violence cases. Getting an EPO requires calling the police, who must be the ones to request the order. Don’t hesitate to seek an EPO, no matter the hour. Judges are required to be on call 24/7 for the purpose of issuing Emergency Protective Orders.
The EPO goes into effect immediately. If the situation is one where the abuser and victim live under the same roof, the abuser will be ordered to leave and find other lodging. An emergency restraining order lasts for one week. That means if you do secure an EPO, there’s still more work for you and your lawyer to do.
Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)
A TRO lasts anywhere from 20-25 days. This is usually a prelude to a judicial hearing on a longer-term order and is intended to provide you with protection until the judge can hear your case.
Permanent Restraining Order
The name is a little misleading, because even a permanent restraining order expires in 3 to 5 years. But that’s still a long time and, given the consequences, a judge will need to see evidence that the abuser really is just that–an abuser who needs legal restraints.
The hearing is a good time to bring forth your witnesses–the close friends and family who may be familiar with the abuse. You may have also confided in a therapist, thus creating a paper trail of evidence that might prove a pattern of behavior by the abuser.
Communication from the abuser themselves is certainly evidence. Text messages, emails, threatening voice messages, all qualify. We know you probably want to make these all disappear and not be triggered by them. But they are important to securing your long-term safety. Try and save them as they occur and then store them for evidence.
Your personal safety is fundamental to your quality of life. If someone is trying to take that away from you with violence or the threat of it, don’t hesitate to act. Trabolsi | Levy | Gabbard LLP knows how serious your problem is and we have the legal understanding necessary to help fix it. Call us today at (310) 455-8364 or contact us online.