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Criminal Defense From A Former Prosecutor

Understanding what a protective order is and its restrictions

A criminal protective order often acts as an emergency measure to prevent a witness or victim of a crime from being threatened, contacted or hurt by a specific individual. In order for it to be issued, it must be proven to the court that one has been hurt or threatened by the defendant in an attempt to get the victim in the case not to testify against them.

Protective orders, also commonly known as restraining orders, are most commonly issued in situations in which a defendant has been previously arrested, charged or found guilty of committing a crime against the victim seeking the order. Once issued, if the defendant violates the protective order, they can be arrested and charged with either a misdemeanor or felony count of contempt of court, depending on the circumstances.

As an added condition of a protective order, a judge may prohibit the defendant from either owning, possessing, acquiring or receiving a firearm so long as the order is in effect. That being said, a defendant that violates such an order can not only be arrested and put into jail, but be fined up to $1,000.

Any relinquishment of firearms, ordered as a condition of the protection order, requires the defendant to surrender them to either a law enforcement officer or a licensed firearms dealer. A judge may schedule a hearing to confirm that the defendant has indeed complied with the order. Any unexcused failure to appear in court for such a hearing may result in a warrant being issued for their arrest.

In order to have a protective order changed, a petition for modification of the protective order must be filed. It must clearly spell out the specific reasons the request is being made with special attention being placed on details pertinent to the case at hand.

The defendant must file the petition with the Criminal Operations at the Justice Center, the division responsible for issuing the protective order. That being said, it's critical that the defendant remain in compliance with the current order until a ruling is made on the new petition.

If you have been threatened with an impending restraining order or a protective order has already been imposed against you, a Van Nuys, California domestic violence attorney can provide guidance in your legal matter.

Source: The Superior Court of California, "Criminal restraining orders," accessed March 03, 2017

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