Criminal court judges issue emergency protective orders in cases where domestic violence victims or their loved ones face imminent danger from their abuser. These court injunctions ban the restrained person from coming close to the alleged victim or the victim’s loved ones. The intent is to keep the victim safe before the judge issues a temporary restraining order or resolves the underlying domestic violence case. If someone obtains an EPO against you, you will be put on notice. That will be when the order goes into effect. The order details the reasons for the EPO, your requirements as the restrained person, and details of the underlying domestic violence matter.

You should seek legal help immediately after receiving an EPO notice. At California Criminal Lawyer Group, we can help you understand the order's details, protect your rights, and avoid violating the court order in Anaheim. We will also help you prepare for the underlying case’s trial to improve your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome.

The Need for an Emergency Protective Order

The law deals harshly with domestic violence. Victims receive the full support of the law when they require protection from their domestic abusers. Among the measures California takes to protect domestic violence victims is issuing restraining orders to separate victims from their abusers until their case is resolved, sometimes permanently. The restrained person is severely punished for violating a restraining order. Thus, domestic violence victims can freely obtain a protective order once they suspect their lives are in danger at the hands of their abuser.

An emergency protective order is one type of domestic violence protective order a domestic violence victim can obtain. Just as its name suggests, judges sign and issue EPOs in emergencies. If the victim calls the police, and after assessing the situation, the police feel that the victim could be in danger of further abuse, they can help the victim obtain an EPO. The order remains in effect until the victim receives a temporary restraining order.

If your intimate partner or someone close to you calls the police on you, and the police help them obtain an EPO against you, you need immediate legal help and guidance. Since the EPO will be in effect almost immediately after its issuance, you must understand how it affects your life, even as you prepare to contest the order in court and defend yourself during the trial. A skilled criminal attorney will help you understand your options and fight alongside you for the most favorable outcome for your case.

Understanding How EPOs Work

Domestic violence protective orders protect victims of domestic violence against stalking, violence, harassment, and threats of violence. A victim of domestic violence can be anyone closely related to you, including your spouse, domestic partner, cohabitant, boyfriend or girlfriend, parent, child, or someone related to you by marriage. If you are abusive towards an intimate partner, they can call the police on you and request emergency protection if they are afraid of their safety or the safety of their loved ones. The EPO will offer short-term protection to the victim as they prepare to file for a temporary or permanent restraining order.

When police respond to a domestic violence call, they are usually prepared to make an arrest. The person who calls for help is presumed to be the victim of abuse. Depending on the situation at hand, the police can advise the victim to obtain a permanent restraining order or an emergency restraining order. For example, if the police arrest the alleged abuser, the abuser can be freed on bail in only a few hours. If the victim fears for their safety, a restraining order can keep them safe from the abuser until a judge resolves their case.

Thus, EPOs are usually issued in emergencies. The police help the abuse victims request emergency protective orders against their abusers. These types of protective orders are typically available around the clock. Thus, the victim can obtain protection even in the middle of the night. The order will be in effect immediately after the judge issues it. It will remain in effect for a maximum of seven or five working days. That should be enough time for the victim to seek other alternative protective orders against their abuser, including a permanent restraining order.

Emergency protective orders are under Sections 6250 to 6253 of the Family Law. According to these laws, applicants for EPOs must fulfill specific criteria and be able to demonstrate that they are at immediate risk of suffering abuse or harm in a domestic violence situation. The responding officer can advise a victim to obtain an EPO under the following conditions:

  • They face the immediate or present danger of violence following the previous allegations and recent cases of threats or abuse.
  • They are a child facing imminent danger of abuse or threats of harm by a household member or family member.
  • The individual is at immediate risk of abduction by their parent or any other relative.
  • The applicant is a dependent adult or elder facing imminent danger of harm by a close relative.

In addition to protecting a domestic violence victim against imminent danger, an EPO prevents the occurrence or repetition of child abuse, child abduction, dependent adult abuse, and domestic violence. The order protects the alleged victim against abuse, as detailed under Section 6203 of the Family Law. In this section, abuse includes:

  • Physically and recklessly inflicting physical harm against another person.
  • Sexual assault.
  • Causing someone else to experience reasonable fear for their safety or the fear of facing serious harm.
  • Heinous acts like hitting another person, stalking, harassing, threatening, or disturbing their peace.

Note that physical abuse goes beyond hitting a person. It could involve other acts like pulling their hair, pushing them, scaring, throwing things at them, and restraining them from going out or coming in. It could also include physically hurting their child, other loved ones, or their pet.

Additionally, abuse in situations of domestic violence goes beyond physical abuse. It could also involve psychological, emotional, mental, and financial abuse.

How Judges Issue EPOs

EPOs are recommended for victims of domestic violence who face an immediate risk of harm from their abusers. Judges sign EPos to keep known abusers far from their victims until the victims can take further legal action. An EPO can keep the alleged abuser away from their home, children’s school, and victim’s workplace until their domestic violence matter is resolved. Here are some of the things the victim can achieve through an EPO:

  • They can protect themselves from any contact with their abuser.
  • They can remain safe from further abuse or threats of abuse.
  • They can stay safe from the fear of living close to their abuser since the EPO keeps the abuser at a specific distance from the victim’s residence, workplace, and the places they frequent.
  • They can keep their loved ones safe from possible abuse even if their loved ones have not been subjected to abuse yet.
  • They have enough time and peace of mind to prepare for the underlying domestic violence case.
  • They can keep custody of their children until a family court rules.

Note that the provisions of an EPO vary from one case to another. The judge sets the terms of an EPO depending on the circumstances of the matter and the alleged abuser’s criminal history.

People That Can Obtain an EPO

Emergency protective orders are usually given to victims of domestic violence. These victims likely live in the same house or neighborhood as their abusers, increasing their chances of further abuse if no immediate action is taken against them. Domestic violence abusers take advantage of their proximity to their victims to continuously abuse and threaten them without creating a public spectacle. They also use their close relationship with their victims to continue the abuse without being reported to the police. That is why protective orders immediately separate the victim and their abuser to discontinue abuse and empower them to seek justice against their abuser.

But EPO applicants must meet specific criteria for the judge to sign an order of protection against their abuser. In most cases, EPOs help children and spouses in domestic violence situations. But EPOs cover more people than that. Section 6211 of the Family Law provides a long list of people who can benefit from an EPO. They are people who enjoy a close relationship with their abuser. Here is the list of people who can obtain an EPO:

  • An ex- or current marriage partner.
  • An ex or current cohabitant.
  • A person in a serious dating relationship with their abuser.
  • A person currently engaged or who was engaged to the alleged abuser.
  • A person who has sired a child with their alleged abuser.
  • A child of the alleged abuser.
  • Any person with a blood or marriage relationship with the abuser.
  • A person living in the same home as the abuser.

The Provisions of an EPO

Judges issue EPOs throughout the day and night. Once a judge signs an EPO, they will include the specific aspects of the order to ensure its viability and enforcement. An emergency protective order will likely have the following characteristics:

  • A statement highlighting the elements the order intends to assert.
  • The dates within which the order will be in effect.
  • The name of the issuing court where the person seeking protection resides.
  • A statement by the applicant regarding the case at hand.

The information in the order will apply to protected and restrained persons. The protected individual can know the duration of the EPO to prepare to apply for an alternative court order if they wish to continue enjoying the court’s protection. If, after the EPO expires, the victim still fears for their safety or the safety of their loved ones, they can apply for a permanent restraining order in the same court. The protected person can seek an attorney's guidance and counsel to understand the order's details and what to expect after expiration. The attorney can also help the victim obtain a permanent protective order before the EPO expires if needed.

The details of the protective order will inform the restrained person of an order of protection against them. It will also contain information that should guide the restrained person’s behavior during the duration of the order. The EPO also means the protected person can obtain a permanent protective order against them. After receiving the EPO's notice, that should guide the protected person’s actions. The protected person can seek an attorney's help to understand the order's details, how it limits them, how long it will take, and their options in fighting the protective order. They also need an attorney’s help to respond to the protective order.

If the person requiring an EPO is a child aged twelve and below, the statement in the order can be slightly different than the one issued to a cohabitant or spouse. It will contain the day and time the order’s effect starts and ends. After the EPO expires, it will inform them of their right to file for a PRO. A skilled attorney can also assist the minor in understanding their rights, the details of the order, and what to expect after its expiration.

If the child is at risk of abduction by their parent or relative, the order’s statement will include the need to file for child custody with the court. The child and the other parent or guardian can seek the help of a lawyer to respond to the order.

The Impact of an EPO

An emergency protective order will impact the protected person and the restrained person, though in a different way. Thus, the applicant must have sufficient legal guidance to make an informed decision. From when the judge signs an EPO to when it expires, the protected and restrained person must adhere to the EPO’s provisions. Some of these provisions include:

  • That the restrained person establishes no contact with the alleged victim.
  • The restrained person should not continue domestic violence against the victim.
  • The restrained person should not sell or damage any property they own with the victim.
  • The restrained person should keep a specific distance from the victim’s home, workplace, and school, and the victim’s children and other family members.
  • The restrained person should leave their family home, even if the house is in their name.
  • The alleged victim can have temporary custody of minor children.
  • The protected person and the restrained person must obey all the provisions of the order.

An EPO will separate spouses, family members, and children from their parents. But it is only temporary. Thus, if someone has obtained an EPO against you, it helps to aggressively fight the order to return to the life you are accustomed to. But you must demonstrate that you are no longer a threat to your loved ones for the judge to lift the order and not issue a permanent restraining order.

Consequences of Violating an EPO

Violating an EPO happens when you fail to abide by the provisions of a valid emergency protective order. An EPO becomes valid once a judge has issued it and correctly served it on the restrained person. Once the police obtain an EPO on behalf of your alleged victim, they can help the victim serve you with the order, or the victim can do it in person. Note that court orders must be served in person. The victim cannot leave the order on your doorstep, mailbox, or office and assume you will receive it. They can send an adult or their attorney to serve on their behalf. Once you receive the order, it goes into effect.

If you violate any of the conditions included in the order, you can face charges for violating a court-issued order. For example, if the order required you to stay away from the alleged victim and family members, but you contacted them, you would be in violation.

Violating an EPO attracts severe consequences under the law. It could have serious criminal and civil repercussions based on the details of the violation. It is essential to consult with your attorney if you are accused of violating an EPO. Your attorney will consider the facts of your case to offer the best advice and options.

If you face criminal charges for violating a restraining order, the district attorney must prove the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt for the court to find you guilty. These elements include:

  • That someone obtained an EPO against you.
  • The EPO was valid.
  • You knew about its existence and its provisions.
  • You intentionally went against the terms of a correct court order.

If the judge finds you guilty of violating an EPO, the consequences could include the following:

  • A citation for being in contempt of the court.
  • Penalties under PC 273.6 include one year in jail and $1000 in court fines for a misdemeanor violation or up to three years in prison for a felony violation.
  • Loss of some of your rights, including child custody rights.

But you can fight your charges in court after your arrest for violating an EPO. You can do so with the help of a skilled criminal attorney. Fortunately, experienced criminal attorneys know the proper legal defense strategies to use in such cases. If used well, these strategies could cause the judge to dismiss or reduce your charges. Here are some of the best strategies your attorney can use in your situation:

You Did Not Know About the EPO

You can only violate an EPO if you know of its existence in the first place. The law requires the protected person to notify the restrained person immediately after they obtain an order of protection. If you do not receive any notice, you will not be guilty if you continue living your life normally.

The EPO Was Invalid

Your attorney can demonstrate that the EPO was invalid and compel the judge to dismiss your charges. It could be so if you did not receive the EPO, the protected person did not serve it well, or the judge that issued the order did not have jurisdiction over the matter. Remember that you must receive the order for it to be in effect. Additionally, you must receive it in person from the protected person, the police, the protected person’s attorney, or an adult sent by the protected person. It would be invalid if the protected person did not correctly serve you with the order. In that case, you will not be guilty of violating an invalid EPO.

The Violation Was Not Willful

Your attorney can use this defense strategy if you accidentally violate the provisions of an EPO. For example, if the order required you to remain within a specific distance of the alleged victim, you bumped into them in a public place like a mall or the streets. You will likely bump into each other occasionally if you work for the same company as the alleged victim but in different branches or departments. In that case, your contact is only a coincidence and not intentional on your part. The judge will dismiss your charges if that is the case. 

You are Falsely Accused

The protected person can falsely accuse you of violating an EPO to exact revenge against you or make you pay for what you did/failed to do. But an aggressive attorney can investigate the matter and present compelling evidence in court to confirm that you did not violate any condition in the order. If the judge agrees, they will dismiss your charges.

Find a Competent Anaheim Criminal Lawyer Near Me

Has anyone obtained an emergency protective order against you in Anaheim?

You must understand what it means, your limitations, and how to fight the order in court. You can do that with the help of our skilled criminal attorneys at California Criminal Lawyer Group. We handle all kinds of domestic violence cases, including those involving restraining and protective orders. Thus, we can help you navigate the legal system effortlessly, help you understand your options, protect your rights, and help you fight the order and your charges in court. Call us at 714-766-0965, and let us study the details of your case for more informed legal guidance.