Complete Guide to a Temporary Protective Order California


A temporary protective order can help victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking receive protection from their abuser. Learn more here.

What Is a Protective Order?


If you fear for your safety and wellbeing, you may wish to pursue the security of a domestic violence protective order. A judge or commissioner can issue a protective order to protect people from abuse. It can be a civil or criminal order and is typically issued against someone who has been accused of domestic violence or physical abuse, sexual assault, harassment, or stalking.

Protective orders are also called “restraining orders” in some states. Protective orders prohibit the accused from contacting the victim or coming near them until the court decides whether the victim should be given a permanent protective order. A temporary order can provide a person with immediate protection.

Under California law, the terms restraining order and protection order are used interchangeably. There is no difference between them. Contact a Los Angeles restraining order attorney for legal assistance and more information.

Types of Protective Orders in California


If you are in immediate and present danger, a law enforcement officer responding to a domestic violence call will likely arrest the suspect. Only a judge can ensure that a person seeking protection remains safe from physical injury. Fortunately, the California penal code and the family court system have options to fit nearly every domestic violence case.

Therefore, there are three types of protective orders in California. These are:

  • Emergency protective order
  • Temporary restraining order
  • Permanent restraining order

A reputable attorney can help you file for a temporary restraining order and prepare for the hearing to obtain a permanent restraining order.

Emergency Protective Order

An emergency protective order can be issued according to the California law Family Code section 6250. This law allows a law enforcement officer to call a judge and request for an emergency restraining order to be issued to you if they believe you are in imminent or present danger of domestic violence. It can be filed within 24 hours of the incident.

During the application process for a temporary restraining order, an emergency protective order ensures that any violence, abuse and abduction of children, or abuse of dependent adults or elders is prevented.

Emergency protective orders can last only five business days or seven calendar days, whichever is shorter. This is because you are supposed to use an emergency protective order as a temporary measure to go to court to get a domestic violence restraining order.


Temporary Restraining Order

A temporary restraining order is issued by a judge who believes the person requesting protection is in immediate danger and needs continued protection until the court can hear the details of the case.

A temporary restraining order lasts for 20 to 25 days, after which a court hearing determines whether a “permanent” restraining order will be issued.


Permanent Restraining Order

To obtain a permanent restraining order, a hearing will be scheduled. The hearing is scheduled whether you obtained a temporary restraining order or not. A judge determines whether the person requesting a restraining order is truly in need of one. Following the court hearing, a judge may grant you a permanent restraining order.

The length of time varies based on the restraining order. Where a civil harassment restraining order is valid for only three years, a domestic violence restraining order is valid for five.

Domestic violence restraining orders can be requested online or in person. If requested online, a temporary ex-parte order will be issued electronically.

If you need additional information or advice regarding domestic violence restraining orders, contact the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney.

Filing a Temporary Protective Order in California


The first step in filing a temporary protective order is to go to court and submit the petition to the court clerk. Domestic violence restraining orders and any forms related to them do not require a fee. Your attorney will be able to help you with these steps.

Although you can file a restraining order without a lawyer, the abuser might hire a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney to fight the restraining order or its conditions. You may wish to have a lawyer present at all proceedings. 

What Are the Legal Requirements to Obtain a Temporary Protective Order in California?

To obtain a Temporary Protective Order (TPO) in California, the petitioner must demonstrate a credible threat or history of abuse by the restrained party. 

California protective orders are not limited to cases of physical violence but also cover threatening behavior, harassment, stalking, and even destroying personal property. 

The petitioner typically needs to have a close relationship with the restrained person, such as being a family member, domestic partner, or living together. For cases like workplace violence, a workplace violence restraining order can be sought by an employer if an employee faces a credible threat that impacts his or her ability to work.

When filing for a TPO, also known as a temporary restraining order (TRO), a filing fee is required; although a fee waiver can be requested based on financial hardship, the application must detail the incidents of violence or harassment and why the order is necessary. 

Once filed, a court hearing date is set, usually within a few weeks, where both parties can present their case. If the judge finds reasonable doubt of threat or abuse, the court issues a TRO, which is typically in effect until the court date for the permanent restraining order hearing.

What Protection Does a Temporary Protective Order Offer in California?

A Temporary Protective Order in California offers various protections to the protected party. These personal conduct orders can prohibit the restrained party from contacting, threatening, stalking, or physically or mentally hurting the protected parties. 

It can also include orders to stay away from the protected person’s home, workplace, or other specified places and may prevent the restrained person from owning a firearm.

In cases involving dependent adult abuse restraining or those with physical disabilities, the TPO can include specific provisions to ensure their safety. If the violation involved a credible threat of violence, the court might require the restrained person to attend anger management classes. 

A violation of a TPO is a serious matter and can lead to arrest and time in county jail. Furthermore, the TPO’s effect is independent of immigration status and does not negatively affect the restrained person’s immigration proceedings.

Temporary restraining orders can last up to three years and are personally served to the restrained persons by a process server or law enforcement officer, ensuring the restrained party is aware of the order and the court date.

What Happens When a Temporary Protective Order Expires?

When a protective order expires, the victim and the defendant are released from it. The judge can extend the order for five more years or permanently during the last three months of the order. This extension does not require further proof of abuse on your part.

If the protected person wants to request a final protective order, they must appear in court. The judge will issue an indefinite final protective order if the defendant fails to appear in court.

Retaining a California Criminal Attorney

With several options available to satisfy your particular circumstances, consider retaining the services of a reputable law firm. A trusted restraining order lawyer can help you determine whether you need a civil harassment or domestic violence restraining order and help you prepare for your court hearing.

The Law Offices of Christopher Chaney is here to help you follow the procedures required to get a restraining order and advocate for your rights and safety in court. Contact a federal criminal defense attorney for a free consultation about your circumstances. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Hearing Required for a Temporary Restraining Order for Protection in California?

A hearing for a temporary restraining order for protection in California is not required. The process can be completed by filing the petition, requesting an ex-parte order, and serving the respondent with the order. If you are granted an ex-parte order, it will be served on the respondent without revealing your personal information.

What Happens if the Restrained Person Violates the Protective Order?

Los Angeles, CA, rules are stringent in implementing all restraining order laws. The consequences of violating a protective order depend on whether it is civil or criminal.

If the restrained person violates the domestic violence protective order, they can be arrested and charged with criminal contempt. If someone violates a civil protective order, they will have to pay fines and/or serve jail time for their actions.

Criminal violations are punished more severely than civil violations because they involve breaking the law.

A judge may sentence someone who has violated a criminal protective order to up to six months in jail for each violation of an injunction that prohibits harassment or threats against another person.

How Long Do Temporary Protective Orders Last in California?

The maximum lengths for protective orders are the following:

  • An emergency protective order lasts up to 5 business days or seven calendar days, whichever is shorter.
  • A temporary restraining order lasts up to 20 – 25 days.
  • A domestic violence restraining order can last up to 5 years, while a
  • A civil harassment restraining order is valid for up to 3 years.

In certain situations, California domestic violence and civil harassment restraining orders can be extended or reissued during a new hearing date if needed.

For experienced legal representation, contact the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney for a free consultation.

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