On a day-to-day basis, there’s an assumption that everything will go smoothly, or at least normally in going to work, running errands, being in relationships, dealing with rush hour commutes and everything else that comprises modern day life. Yet, unfortunately, in 2019, many unpleasant situations arise regularly – such as co-workers who take an unhealthy interest in following, commenting, and harassing people on social media or online; or an individual who follows a car off the freeway because they feel like they’ve been wronged; or a partner in a relationship who either verbally or physically abuses their other half. All of the last situations and more are unfortunately common – and unfortunately normal in 2019. Fortunately, there are legal remedies under California law to protect people in these different situations. The broad overarching remedy is to obtain a “restraining order”, but like the situations above, restraining orders in California vary depending on the specific facts of a case.
Before we cover the three types of civil protective orders in California, let all of us at the firm note that any sort of violence or harassment, especially of a physical nature is a serious issue, and under many circumstances may be a crime. If you feel your life is in imminent danger, or there are serious ongoing issues with a partner or total stranger, you should stop reading this article and contact the appropriate authorities in your area to obtain assistance. Under the California Penal Code, domestic violence, assault, and other issues are crimes that can and do lead to criminal liability and criminal protective orders, which in many cases supersede, or supplement the civil remedies described below.
The main type of restraining order that is issued within California is a Domestic Violence Restraining Order (“DVRO”), which requires the parties at issue to have had a relationship, including simply dating, being engaged, or married. As well, even if there was no relationship, but the parties had a child – or multiple children, such situations fall within the scope of a DVRO. To first obtain a temporary DVRO, one must prove that abuse has occurred either one time – or on multiple occasions.
Under the law, abuse can be physical or sexual harm, or threats of physical harm. If such prongs of the Domestic Violence Prevention Act (“DVPA”) were not broad enough, DVRO’s can also be issued for “…Engaging in any behavior that has been or could be illegal such as molesting, attacking, striking, stalking, threatening, battering, harassing, destroying personal property, contacting the other by mail, telephone, or otherwise, disturbing the peace of the other party.” The protections under this law are specifically broad to protect all people and minors in abusive relationships. Again, if you feel that you are a victim of domestic abuse under the terms of the DVPA, in addition to pursuing this civil remedy, you should contact the appropriate authorities for assistance.
The second most common type of restraining order is what is known as a Civil Harassment Restraining Order (“CHRO”). CHRO’s are governed by a different law than the DVPA, because they cover stalking, harassment, assaults, threats, and sexual assaults and the attendant misconduct of parties who are in essence, total strangers. The main distinction between DVRO’s and CHRO’s is that a DVRO is a restraining order for parties that have had a relationship of some sort, and a CHRO is for parties that have had no relationship and likely no interactions prior to whatever issues arose. Common examples of people who may need CHRO’s are neighbors in apartment complexes, roommates in non-romantic situations, co-workers, or again, that type of person who follows someone either on – or off-line. Again, abuse does not stop because parties are either relative or complete strangers. If you feel you need a CHRO based upon the violent acts of another, you should also contact the authorities.
The final type of restraining order is a new variant under California law, the Gun Violence Restraining Order (“GVRO”). The GVRO applies in limited circumstances where an immediate family member feels that another should not have firearms or ammunition. Unlike the two above types of restraining orders, both of which have provisions as to contact, communication, and physical distance, the GVRO only addresses the removal of firearms and ammunition. It is also worth noting that parties who are seeking a DVRO can also have firearms removed from the other party, irrespective of whether one is still co-habitating or not. While the GVRO is a newer legal remedy, in theory it is designed to aid in a party’s mental health and access to weapons during a troubled time. Again, if you feel there is an imminent issue or threat by a party and their firearms, one should contact the authorities.
These three types of restraining orders work to keep the abnormal in modern life safer, and in that regard, a little more normal. Knowing the appropriate type of protective order is however, just the start. Any protective order requires a party to provide solid evidence and meet their burden of proof. If you’re considering requesting a restraining order of any sort, don’t just trust what advice you receive from family and friends, or the internet, but contact an attorney who can guide you on how to prepare the necessary paperwork, and obtain the maximum results for your personal safety. Call us today to arrange an appointment and protect your personal safety and peace of mind.
Christopher Sunnen, Esq. is a San Diego, CA based attorney specializing in family law and bankruptcy law.