What do I Do if my Spouse Violates a Protective Order?
In California, protective orders (also known as restraining orders) are used to protect an individual who is being harassed, stalked, threatened, or abused. For example, a protective order may be placed on an abusive spouse that restricts them from coming within a certain distance of the other spouse for a specified period of time. It is unlawful for the restrained person to violate a protective order, and a violation can result in harsh consequences.
California Protective Order Basics
Protective orders/restraining orders are court orders that protect the endangered person from harm. There are several different types of protective orders in California, these include:
- Domestic Violence Protective Orders: Domestic violence restraining orders are among the most common, and they are used to protect an individual from someone they have a close relationship with. A protective order against a spouse would fall into this category. Other examples include protective orders against the former spouses, current or former cohabitating partners, current or former individuals they were in a dating relationship with, parents, grandparents, children, siblings, anyone closely related to them by blood, marriage, or adoption, or anyone who lives regularly in their home.
- Civil Harassment Protective Orders: Civil harassment restraining orders are used to protect an individual from someone who they do not have a close relationship with, and which would not be considered a domestic relationship. Examples may include former friends, neighbors, roommates, and distant family members who would not qualify for a domestic violence protective order.
- Workplace Violence Protective Orders: This type of protective order protects employees who have been victims of threats, harassment, stalking, or violence from a coworker or someone else in the workplace. Workplace violence restraining orders can only be requested by the employer on behalf of an endangered employee. The employee cannot request the order themselves. However, an employee could request a domestic violence or civil harassment protective order depending on their relationship with the restrained person.
- Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse Protective Orders: Individuals who are 65 years of age or older or disabled and between the ages of 18 and 64 can request an elder or dependent adult abuse restraining order to protect them from physical, mental, or psychological abuse, neglect or abandonment, financial abuse, deprivation, or any other treatment that is physically or mentally harmful to the victim by a caregiver for whom the victim relies for their basic needs.
- Emergency Protective Orders: When there is immediate danger, an emergency restraining order can be requested by a law enforcement officer any time 24/7. Emergency orders are limited in duration, and the victim will need to request an extension of the order or obtain a new order to lengthen the duration.
What to Do when your Spouse Violates a Protective Order
If your spouse intentionally disobeys any of the provisions of a protective order, there are some steps you should take:
- Contact the Police: If your spouse’s violation of the protective order puts you in danger, call the police right away. Show the police a copy of the order, and if your spouse is there and has not been served, ask the police officer to serve them. The police could also choose to arrest your spouse for violating the order, and they could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony depending on if this is a first or subsequent violation. Criminal penalties may include heavy fines and jail time.
- Retain Evidence of the Violation: Gather as much evidence as possible to prove that your spouse violated the protective order. Write down, in as much detail as you can, what happened while it is still fresh in your mind. Obtain statements from anyone who may have witnessed the event. Retain copies of any threatening voicemails, text messages, emails, social media posts, or any other type of electronic messages. If you were injured, obtain copies of your medical report.
- Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney: If the involvement of the police has not deterred your spouse from violating the protective order, get in touch with a seasoned family law attorney to discuss your legal options. The next step may be to file a contempt of court action for violating the order. This is a powerful remedy, however, and it could land your spouse in jail. This is also a complicated action that requires you to prove that your spouse knew about the protective order and willfully violated it. For this reason, contempt of court actions should only be used as a last resort.
For immediate help with protective orders and any other type of family legal matter in San Diego, El Cajon, and throughout Southern California, contact the experienced attorneys at Garmo and Garmo. Call our office today at 619-441-2500 or send us a message through our web contact form.