How Does a Domestic Violence Restraining Order Protect Me?

How Does a Domestic Violence Restraining Order Protect Me?

At Happ Law Group P.C., we understand the challenges faced by victims of domestic violence. It’s crucial to seek protection in cases of domestic violence, and one effective way to do so is through a Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO).

Our firm is committed to providing support and guidance throughout this process.

Understanding Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is where one person acts abusively towards their spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant, a person with whom they have or had a dating relationship, or certain relatives such as children, parents and siblings.

Abuse is not limited to physical injury or assault. Abuse can manifest in many forms including, but not limited to, physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, financial abuse, and coercive control. Coercive control is a pattern of behavior that unreasonably interferes with a person’s free will and personal liberty; examples include, but are not limited to, isolating someone, depriving someone of basic necessities, making threats pertaining to someone’s immigration status, engaging in reproductive coercion, or controlling, regulating or monitoring someone’s movements, communications or finances.

Domestic violence can occur in just one incident or may occur in multiple incidents. Domestic violence can also involve other family and household members for whom you may request to seek protection for.

The impact of domestic violence on its victims is profound and long-lasting to say the least. Victims may experience a range of feelings from fear and helplessness to long-term psychological trauma.

Our Experienced Domestic Violence Attorneys in San Diego assist victims in obtaining protection orders and those accused of domestic violence with diligent representation.

What is a Domestic Violence Restraining Order in California?

A DVRO is a legal order issued by a court to protect victims of domestic violence from their abusers. A DVRO can be temporary or permanent as discussed in detail below.

These orders typically prohibit the abuser from engaging in specific harmful behaviors towards the victim and include forms of relief and protection. Examples of conduct the court may prohibit an abuser from engaging in include, but are not limited to, molesting, attacking, striking, stalking, threatening, sexually assaulting, battering, credibly impersonating, falsely impersonating, harassing, telephoning, destroying personal property and disturbing the peace of the other party. These orders also typically include a stay away order where the abuser is required to stay a certain distance from the victim’s person, home, work or school, and may also include an Order for Removal from Residence.

There are various types of protective orders, and they can be tailored to the needs of the victim. These orders range from temporary to permanent orders and are enforceable by law enforcement agencies.

Emergency Protective Orders (EPOs)

EPOs are generally issued in situations of immediate danger. They provide swift protection to the victim, typically in situations where there is no time to wait for a court hearing. They are generally granted for a shorter duration, days, until the victim can seek alternate assistance such as filing for a DVRO.

According to the Judicial Council of California, EPOs are often granted at the scene of a domestic violence incident, especially when the police are involved. They last a few days and offer immediate protection until a more permanent solution can be put in place.

At Happ Law Group P.C., we are passionate about helping our clients achieve the best possible outcome in their family law matters.

Temporary Restraining Orders (TROs)

TROs are issued to provide short-term protection to the victim while the hearing is pending. They are typically granted after the victim files a Request for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order with the court, providing details about the abuse, and if the court determines there is reasonable proof of a past act or acts of abuse warranting the issuance of a TRO.

The process involves filling out specific forms and submitting them to the court. The judge then reviews the case generally without a hearing and determines whether to issue the TRO based on the evidence presented. TROs are generally issued without notice to the abuser.

TROs generally include stay away orders, orders preventing the abuser from engaging in specific harmful behaviors and orders preventing the abuser from contacting, directly or indirectly, the victim. TROs may also include an Order for Removal from Residence for the abuser to vacate the residence if they reside with the victim.

TROs usually last for a short amount of time until the hearing date, which is generally scheduled within 21 days. TROs offer immediate but temporary protection to the victim until the court can conduct a full hearing.

Permanent Restraining Orders

Permanent restraining orders are issued after a full court hearing where both parties have the opportunity to present their case. They are generally referred to as DVROs. When determining whether to grant a DVRO, the court must look at the totality of the circumstances to determine whether to grant or deny the restraining order. This includes any events that occurred after filing the initial petition such as violations of any TROs. The court may grant a permanent restraining order if it finds the victim showed by a preponderance of the evidence that past acts of abuse occurred.

Unlike temporary orders, permanent restraining orders last for a longer duration. An initial DVRO may last up to 5 years, at which point the victim may file for a request for renewal. Happ Law Group P.C. can assist with both initial DVROs and requests for renewal.

How to Obtain a DVRO

The process of obtaining a DVRO involves several key steps:

  1. First, determine if your situation fits the criteria for a DVRO. This includes, but is not limited to, instances of physical abuse, sexual assault, serious bodily injury, verbal abuse, and behaviors like stalking, threatening, harassing, and coercing.
  2. You’ll need to obtain a DVRO request application from the court clerk. Fill out these forms as completely as possible. In California, for example, the San Diego Superior Court provides these forms both in their offices and online.
  3. Once you have completed the forms, file them at the appropriate court. Many courts also offer e-filing options.
    A TRO will be granted or denied and a hearing will be scheduled.
  4. Free self-help services are often available to assist you with the application process. Additionally, you may be eligible for free legal representation through programs like the Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act.
  5. At Happ Law Group P.C. we are happy to assist you with all of these stages.

During the court hearing:

  • The judge will review the evidence and allegations you have presented.
  • You’ll have the opportunity to present your case, which should include specific instances of abuse or harassment.
  • It’s important to provide detailed descriptions of the abusive incidents, including dates, locations, and witnesses, if available.

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Scope of Protection

DVROs may grant a wide variety of protections to the victim and potentially to additional protected persons, such as children or persons who reside with the victim. The scope of the protections that may be afforded are broad and vary depending on what is requested in the initial request. Some of the protections are set forth below.

Protection from Abuse

A TRO and a DVRO typically set specific orders not to abuse the victim or any additional protected parties such as a child or family members.

The restrained person is prohibited from harassing, attacking, threatening, assaulting, hitting, following, stalking, molesting, destroying personal property, keeping under surveillance, impersonating, blocking movements, annoying by phone or other electronic means, or disturbing the peace of the victim and any additional protected persons.

No Firearms

Typically a TRO or a DVRO prohibits the restrained party from owning, possession, buying, or receiving firearms, firearm parts, and ammunition.

Generally, within 24 hours of being served with a TRO or DVRO, the restrained person is required to store with a licensed gun dealer or turn into law enforcement their firearms, firearm parts and ammunition.

Geographical and Residential Limits

A DVRO typically sets specific geographical limits to ensure the safety of the victim. The abuser is often required to stay away from the victim’s home, workplace, or school.

This creates a physical safety zone around the places where the victim spends most of their time.

The distance will vary based on the specifics of the case, but generally, the abuser is required to maintain a certain distance at all times from these locations.

Where a victim and the abuser reside together, the TRO or DVRO may include an order that the abuser be removed from the residence.

Communication Restraints

The California Courts Self-Help Guide emphasizes that DVROs often restrict all forms of communication between the abuser and the victim, whether direct or indirect.

This includes direct communication like phone calls, text messages, and emails, as well as indirect methods such as messages sent through a third party.

One goal is to prevent any form of harassment or intimidation, including through modern communication technologies like social media.

Asset and Property Protections

DVROs can also extend protection to assets and properties.

They may include orders to prevent the abuser from transferring, borrowing against, selling or hiding assets or disposing of property, which is crucial to preserve assets. The court may also order the abuser to continue making certain payments such as mortgage payments or insurance payments.

This ensures that the victim’s economic stability is not compromised due to the abusive situation.

Legal Consequences for Violating a DVRO

Violating a DVRO will have serious legal repercussions.

For instance, a first violation typically results in being charged with a misdemeanor. This may include penalties such as up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of not more than $1,000.

Penal Code 273.6 says: “Any intentional and knowing violation of a protective order . . . is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.”

When a DVRO is violated, the victim can ask the police or the court to enforce the order. The enforcement can include arresting the abuser or taking other necessary actions.

Got more questions? Read more FAQs related to consulting, hiring and being represented by a Certified Family Law Specialist for a divorce, child custody or other family law proceeding.

Tailoring Protection to Your Needs

Every DVRO can be tailored to address the needs of your situation. This could include setting specific geographical limits, communication restraints, and provisions for asset and property protections.

Collaborating with experienced domestic violence lawyers is important in customizing your DVRO effectively.

They can help you understand the nuances of your case and ensure that the restraining order for domestic violence covers all aspects of your situation.

Litigation and Court Proceedings

Experienced attorneys help in several ways:

  • Lawyers help in gathering and presenting evidence, effectively addressing the required legal standards, and advocating on your behalf.
  • Lawyers also help in preparing requests for TROs and DVROs tailored to your specific needs.
  • In cases where mental health issues are involved, whether for the victim or the accused, legal expertise becomes even more crucial. The credibility of those involved, especially in cases where mental health conditions might affect perceptions and behaviors, is a key consideration in court proceedings.
  • If you’re subject to a restraining or protective order, a lawyer can assist in petitioning to dissolve or modify the order, ensuring your rights are protected.

Bottom Line

DVROs are legal tools designed to protect individuals from domestic violence. They encompass various provisions including but not limited to, no-contact orders, custody and visitation orders, and sometimes orders pertaining to various assets or payments of debts.

We strongly encourage anyone facing domestic violence issues to seek legal assistance.

The complexities of DVROs require professional guidance to ensure your rights and safety are adequately protected.

At Happ Law Group P.C., we specialize in providing comprehensive legal assistance in DVRO cases. Our experienced team is equipped to handle the intricacies of these cases, ensuring that your needs are effectively represented and your rights protected.

If you or someone you know is in need of legal assistance regarding a DVRO, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.


What is a Domestic Violence Restraining Order in California?
A DVRO is a legal order issued by a court to protect someone from abuse by a family member, cohabitant, spouse or a person you are in a dating relationship with. It can include various restrictions such as no contact orders, move out orders, stay-away orders, and temporary child custody and visitation arrangements.

What are the steps to obtain a DVRO?
The process involves filling out necessary forms, submitting them to the court, and attending a court hearing. In emergency situations, a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) can be granted quickly for immediate protection.

What are the legal consequences of violating a restraining order for domestic violence?
Violating a DVRO can lead to serious legal penalties including misdemeanor charges, fines, and imprisonment. It’s crucial for both the protected person and the restrained person to understand and adhere to the terms of the order.

DISCLAIMER: This information is made available by Happ Law Group P.C. for educational purposes only as well as to provide general information and a general understanding of California law, not to provide specific legal advice. If you are in need of advice about your specific situation, you should consult with a California family law attorney.