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Change or End a Domestic Violence Protective Order

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | Jul 08, 2024

A unique legal process in domestic violence cases in Los Angeles is the court issuing a criminal protective order against a defendant.

Suppose you were charged or convicted of a domestic violence-related offense. In that case, you will typically be subjected to a protective order prohibiting you from contacting the victim for some time.

When you appear in court for your arraignment for domestic violence, you will be served with a copy of the protective order, and the terms are read aloud to ensure you understand them.

Protective orders often create severe hardship for families. They prohibit a spouse from contacting the protected party, who is often a family member. This means no text messages, emails, or electronic communication, significantly disrupting family relationships.

Notably, however, there are situations where the judge will allow peaceful contact between family members.

Suppose you are convicted of domestic violence and placed on probation. In that case, the criminal court judge must issue a protective order as a condition of the probation described under California Penal Code 1203.097 PC.

If you violate the terms of the protective order, you could face a probation violation with severe penalties. This includes potential prosecution for a separate crime, typically a misdemeanor offense, and a violation of bail conditions.

Protected persons often inquire about changing or terminating a protective order. The process involves specific steps, including requesting a modification of the criminal protective order in a California domestic violence case. Here are some ways to help individuals understand how to change or end a domestic violence protective order in Los Angeles. 

Will the Court Modify the Protective Order?

It's common for the named protected person to seek changes in the protective order to contact the defendant. The most common reasons to seek a modification include the following:

  • Attempt to reconcile their relationship.
  • Have peaceful contact, allowing the defendant to spend time with the children.

One of the reasons the criminal court judge will modify a criminal protective order is when a family law or dependency court issues a visitation and custody order, which specializes in family reunification.

They are often more aware of the details of an allegedly abusive relationship than the criminal court. This means a criminal court judge will usually defer to the judgment of family or dependency courts on the issue of peaceful contact.

The criminal protective order forms that the court uses have a box that can be checked for this purpose and is a pretty common request from domestic violence defendants.

What is a Full Stay-Away Order?

In Los Angeles domestic violence cases, the most common type of criminal protective order is a full stay-away and complete no-contact order, which prohibits the defendant from contact of any form with listed protected persons, including the following:

  • Alleged victim of domestic violence.
  • Minor children who may have witnessed domestic violence.

After the defendant appears in court for the first time on a domestic violence allegation, the judge will not even ask for feedback from the victim or defense lawyer. Simply put, they will typically issue a full stay-away order.

This full stay-away protective order mandates significant changes in a defendant's life, such as a requirement to move out of their own home and not have access to their children.

This can also cause them to spend significant money on moving into a new home. For these reasons, it's common for a defendant to request a modification of the criminal protective order issued against them.

What is a Peaceful Contact Order?

Sometimes, the alleged victim wishes to seek a less restrictive protective order, called a "peaceful contact order." This type of order can allow peaceful communication, offering a glimmer of hope for reconciliation.

This type of domestic violence criminal protective order allows defendants to have any amount of contact they want with the victim as long as it's peaceful. This means they cannot strike, harass, assault, stalk, molest, or make threats to harm the alleged victim.

Any threats against the victim communicated by the defendant through a third party also violate a peaceful contact order.

Can the District Attorney Request Modification?

Suppose the circumstances justify a request to modify a criminal protective order in a domestic violence case. Then, the district attorney is allowed to seek changes from the court.

This would typically occur when the court imposed a more lenient criminal protective order against a defendant, such as a peaceful contact order.

In most cases where the district attorney will seek modification of a protective order, it will involve allegations of the defendant that they:

  • Violated the terms of the current protective order.
  • Engaged in conduct that justifies increasing the level of restriction.

Once the court receives a request from the prosecution, they will closely examine the details to decide.

If the judge believes it's necessary, they will increase the level of restriction in the protective order to a full stay-away or no-contact order.

What Happens If a Protective Order is Violated?

Violating a domestic violence criminal protective order in Los Angeles is a separate crime that is typically prosecuted as a misdemeanor offense but also a violation of the bail conditions.

In a felony case of domestic violence, the defendant will usually be required to post $50,000 or more in cash bail to get released from custody.

If bail is revoked for violating a criminal protective order, the judge will significantly increase the bail amount.

Will You Have to Return to Court?

If you want to change or terminate a protective order, both parties must return to court for the judge to formally change the terms.

Change or End a Domestic Violence Protective Order

If you are on probation, the judge will typically ask the protected party questions to ensure they aren't forced to change the protective order. If you or a family member is facing domestic violence charges, you will be subjected to a criminal protective order issued by the court.

Contact our Los Angeles domestic violence defense lawyers to review the case details. We have a track record of success representing both defendants and victims in issues dealing with domestic violence criminal protective orders. The Hedding Law Firm is based in Los Angeles, CA.

Learn how to change or end a domestic violence protective order in Los Angeles, requiring both parties to return to the court to ensure there is no coercion.

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About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding

What Makes Ronald Hedding Uniquely Qualified To Represent You? I've been practicing criminal defense for almost 30 years and have handled thousands of cases, including all types of state and federal sex crime cases. All consultations are discreet and confidential.