Protective Order Vs. Restraining Order: What’s The Difference?

restraining orders

In California, protective orders and restraining orders are similar in that they are meant to protect someone from another person’s harmful conduct. The words protective order and restraining order are often used interchangeably, but legally they are separate and distinct types of orders that are issued in criminal or civil matters.

If you or a loved one needs to be protected from another person, you might need a protective or restraining order, depending on your circumstances. Keep reading for more information about the two judicial decrees and how they can help you get the protection and security you need.

Criminal Vs. Civil Orders

The main difference between a protective order and a restraining order is in which court, civil or criminal, the order is issued. In criminal cases, criminal protective orders are requested by the district attorney on behalf of the victim. These orders are often used in domestic matters when the prosecuting attorney seeks a judicial decree to protect a domestic violence victim from the abuser.

Restraining orders are issued in civil matters at the request of one party in a civil matter. Civil restraining orders are common in family law and other civil court cases. For example, one party in a divorce or custody case might seek a restraining order against the other party to prohibit harassment, physical proximity, or other harmful conduct.

Conflicting Court Orders

Sometimes protective orders are issued for the same parties in both civil and criminal cases. This frequently happens in domestic violence cases when an accuser seeks a temporary restraining order in civil court while the district attorney handles the criminal case.

If the prosecutor files criminal charges for the domestic violence incident, he may ask for a criminal protective order for the victim. Because two different orders can be issued for the same parties, there are sometimes conflicting terms in the civil order and the criminal order.

For example, a criminal protective order may require no contact between the parties, while the restraining order does not prohibit contact. There are legal rules that address conflicting terms and how those conflicts should be solved.

In the example above, if no contact is ordered by one court, that term takes priority, and communication between parties will be prohibited. If you have two orders with conflicting directives, a family law attorney can review the decrees and determine which provisions are enforceable.

Expiration Of Protective And Restraining Orders

When restraining orders are issued, they typically have an end date to tell you when they expire. Criminal protective orders also have end dates that can last up to ten years from the issue date. If you want to extend either order, you will have to ask the court to renew or modify the order to ensure that you are protected.

Violating A Protective Or Restraining Order

Violating a protective order or restraining order is a crime that can have severe penalties, including possible jail time and fines. Depending on the circumstances, the restrained person may face other consequences for violating the order as well. For example, the restrained person may be charged with contempt of court for non-compliance.

A single violation may result in misdemeanor charges, while multiple violations can lead to felony convictions. Additionally, failure to comply with protective orders can impact custody and visitation rights in family law matters.

Modifying Court Orders

Sometimes one or both parties want to change, extend, or terminate protective and restraining orders. For example, if the protected person believes that the restrained person is no longer a threat, they can seek to terminate the order. Conversely, the protected person may also ask the court to increase protections in the order.

Court orders can only be modified by judicial order. To change a criminal protective order, you will have to request a hearing to modify the order and file it in the appropriate criminal court. If you want to modify or terminate a civil restraining order, you will complete form CH-600 and file it in civil court.

Contact A California Restraining Order Attorney

Contact California restraining order attorney Bruce A. Mandel to discuss your situation and how he can help. He has more than three decades of experience representing clients in restraining order cases and other family law matters.

Restraining and protective orders can significantly impact your rights and well-being, and an experienced attorney will advocate for your best interests. Contact Bruce at 424-250-9130 or online for a consultation. Follow him on Facebook to read more about his law practice.

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