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If you have been accused of violating a criminal protective order or a domestic violence restraining order, there may be several legal consequences associated with those violation. In addition to a hearing in family court regarding contempt of court for violation of a domestic violence restraining order, you may face criminal penalties under Penal Code section 273.6 – Violating a Protective, Restraining, or Stay Away Order. An experienced restraining order attorney should be able to provide advice and counsel about how both processes may impact the outcome of your case.

Repercussions for a Protective Order Violation

If a judge finds that a restrained party violated the restraining or protective order against them, he or she could hold them in contempt and accordingly send them to jail and/or sentence them to a fine. A contempt action can be brought in family court where the domestic violence restraining order was originally filed or a criminal action can be charged by the District Attorney in criminal court for the violation of the orders.  If the violation is of a domestic violence restraining order it could be charged criminally under Penal Code 273.6 while violations of other court orders could be charged under Penal Code section 166(a)(4).

Consequences of the violation not only include jail time and fines but there can also be stricter modifications of the existing orders imposed or additional restrictions tacked on such as prohibiting previously allowed peaceful contact through text, OurFamilyWizard, or another messaging app or prohibited previously allowed peaceful child exchanges.

A violation of a protective order can result from otherwise lawful conduct. For instance, if someone contacts an individual and asks how their day was, that is not usually a crime unless of course there is a court order that says they cannot do it. Moreover, if the violative conduct is both a violation of the order and a separate unlawful criminal offense, he or she can not only face contempt allegations but also additional charges for the unlawful conduct.  For example, if a restrained party were to throw a brick through the car window of the protected party it could result in a contempt charge plus a vandalism charge – and even more serious charges if the party was inside the vehicle.

Consequences for Crimes Committed During Order Violations

The burden of proof for a contempt action filed in family court or contempt charges in criminal court for violation of domestic violence protective orders is beyond a reasonable doubt.  Even if a contempt of domestic violence restraining order action gets filed in family court it still has a high burden of proof just like a criminal case.  It must be proved that a valid order existed, the contemnor was aware of the order, and the contemnor willfully violated the order.

The possible penalties for violating a domestic violence restraining order in family court are 5 days in custody (or 120 hours of community service) per violation plus a $1000 fine per violation and the potential penalty for a Penal Code 273.6 criminal charge for violating a domestic violence order is  up to 1 year in county jail and a $1000 fine if no injury was involved, 30 days minimum up to 1 year in county jail and a fine, and if there was injury and prior convictions for violating court orders then the matter can be charged as a felony and the individual can face anywhere from 16m to 3 years in in custody.

Discuss Criminal Penalties for an Oakland Restraining Order Violation with an Attorney

It is clear that violating court orders can result in serious consequences including loss of freedom and hefty fines in both civil/family and criminal court.  To ensure your rights are protected, you may need strong representation from someone familiar with both the civil and criminal sides of restraining orders. Call today to set up an initial consultation.

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