Penal Code 273.6 PC - Violating a Restraining Order
Courts place protective orders against people all the time in criminal court in Los Angeles. Usually, I see this most when someone is charged with domestic violence or spousal abuse case when they first appear in court, the court will issue a protective order for them to stay at least 100 yards away from the alleged victim.
Also, that order will include them not contacting that person in any way and not having any other third-party contact with that person in any way.
A lot of times we can get the court to modify the protective order in a criminal case by saying that the person can have peaceful contact with the alleged victim while the case is pending.
Different parts of the protective order can be modified depending on the circumstances. Sometimes neighbors will have an issue, and a protective order will be issued, but the neighbors live so close to each other that it's impossible to stay 100 yards away from each other, in which case, the attorney for the defendant can ask the court to modify the protective order to a shorter distance so both people can live in their homes, but obviously not have any further issues with each other.
When it comes to protective orders in Los Angeles pursuant to Penal Code Section 273.6, the courts take these very seriously. If somebody violates a protective order, then they will be subject to up to one year in the county jail and further restrictions by the court, depending on the circumstances of the violation.
In order to get a protective order modified, typically in LA, the alleged victim actually has to come into court and request that they have peaceful contact with the defendant. Sometimes the court will grant it; sometimes, it won't.
Obviously, if you're a defendant in a criminal case and you want to have a protective order modified to a level 1 protective order where you're permitted to have contact with the alleged victim.
Your best bet is to have an attorney arguing for you the reasons that you're not going to have any further issues with the alleged victim and why you're not a danger to the victim or the community.
Difference Between A Criminal Protective Order And Restraining Order
People who are not familiar with the criminal law in Los Angeles or are familiar with Penal Code Section 273.6 do not understand the difference between a criminal protective order and a restraining order.
A restraining order is a civil order where you file the restraining order in Civil Court if the Judge grants it, and then the person who it is granted against violates it, then that can become a criminal case. But otherwise, that is a civil arena, not to be confused with the criminal courts.
A protective order, on the other hand, is something that is issued by the criminal court – usually associated with a case where someone has inflicted some violence against another person, threatened violence against that person, or simply must be ordered to stay away from that person for the protection of the alleged victim.
If you violate a protective order, then the criminal court can punish you, and the prosecutors in the criminal court can also charge you with a new crime and try to get punishment for that new crime.
When it comes to protective orders in domestic violence cases, the prosecutors are very harsh in these cases and will stop at nothing to get the protective order.
Their mindset is basically they feel they are trying to protect the alleged victim. A lot of times, spouses in domestic disputes will use these protective orders in order to gain an advantage against another spouse – especially in a divorce situation where there are kids involved.
It can be a horrible result for a defendant in a criminal case who is charged with some sort of spousal abuse or domestic violence to lose the ability to see their children because a blanket protective order is placed on them by a criminal court.
Developing a Defense Strategy
What I have people do when it comes to these protective order cases is sit down. We map out everything that's going on between the parties – the one that is being charged with the crime and the protective order is being sought, and then the other party.
Then we figure out what, if anything, can be done about either getting rid of the protective order altogether or at least modifying it so that the person can continue to live their life and not be hindered by this protective order or in jeopardy of being thrown in jail or prosecuted because of a violation of the protective order.
This is something that has to be worked on by a criminal defense attorney. I've been doing this for twenty-five years, and I usually have a good sense of how we can strategize to deal with the protective order so that you can be able to live your life as normally as possible and be successful in getting yourself out of the criminal justice system as fast as possible.