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Legal Information: California

Restraining Orders

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Laws current as of January 11, 2024

What if the abuser violates the order?

Violating a DVRO is against the law. There are two ways to get help if the abuser violates the DVRO.

Through the police or sheriff
If the defendant violates the DVRO, you can call 911 immediately. In some cases, the defendant can be arrested right away.1 Tell the officers you have a DVRO and the defendant is violating it. Always have both a certified copy of your Restraining Order After Hearing (CLETS)2, Form DV-130 (with any attachments) and your filed copy of the Proof of Service, showing that the abuser was served with the Restraining Order After Hearing (Form DV-140) with you at all times.3

If the abuser is arrested and criminal charges are filed, you may be asked to go to court to tell what happened. It may be several weeks or months before the criminal case is called and you are asked to tell about what happened. It will be easier to remember things for your hearing if you write down everything that happened right after it happens.

Through the civil court
You may file for civil contempt for a violation of the order. The abuser is in “civil contempt” if s/he does anything that your DVRO orders him/her not to do. To file for civil contempt, go to the clerk’s office. If the abuser is found to be in civil contempt, s/he could be fined up to $1,000 or imprisoned for up to five days. If s/he violates the DVRO multiple times, the jail time can increase up to 10 days. Alternatively, the judge could order probation or a conditional sentence for a up to one year upon a first finding of contempt, up to two years upon a second finding of contempt, and up to three years upon a third or any subsequent finding of contempt.4

If the abuser does not follow other parts of the order, such as the child support order, you can also contact the family law facilitator, the family support office of the district attorney, or a private attorney for more information on how to enforce the order. For court information, go to CA Courthouse Locations.

1 See Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 6388
2 See Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 6387
3 See Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 6385
4 Ann.Cal.C.C.P. § 1218