Restraining orders can be a valuable tool to help domestic violence victims receive protection against their abuser and can also be beneficial to help the parties maintain a safe distance while their family law case is pending. But what happens when the restraining order expires? Are victims allowed to ask for the order to be extended or modified in any way? Our Los Angles restraining order attorneys answer these and other common questions about restraining orders in California and explain why getting legal help to change or extend a restraining order may be the right thing to do for your case.
When issuing a restraining order between two parties, California courts may set an expiration date of up to five years for the first restraining order. In other words, the first time you secure a restraining order against your ex-spouse, for example, the court may look into the specifics of your case and decide that your restraining order should last anywhere from a few months to a maximum of five years.
It is worth noting that some restraining orders may not have a written expiration date. When that happens, it does not mean that the order will last indefinitely. In most cases, the order will automatically expire three years from the date when it was issued. The length of a restraining order varies depending on the severity of the threat against the protected party. If the court has enough reason to believe that the protected party is at risk of severe bodily harm or death, the order will likely last longer. If the court believes the situation between the parties is a lesser threat that will probably be resolved in a short time, the restraining order may not last for the full five years.
In some cases, the protected party in a restraining order has great anxiety and fear about what will happen once the order expires. It is not uncommon for an abuser to continue affecting the victim even after their family law case has been concluded. If you are a protected party and have a restraining order that is due to expire soon, you may be able to ask the court to extend your order as long as you observe certain requirements when submitting your request.
In order to ask the court to extend a restraining order, you need to submit an application no later than three months before the restraining order is set to expire. California laws do not necessarily require the protected party to submit evidence of abuse in order to be granted an extension of their protection order, but you may have to be ready to explain your reasons for requesting the extension and demonstrate that your fear is genuine and that you still believe you may be at risk of being harmed if the restraining order is allowed to expire.
If the court accepts your request, your restraining order may be extended for another five years or may be made permanent. If the renewed order is set to expire in five years, you may repeat the process and apply for another renewal three months prior to the expiration of the new restraining order.
Either party in a restraining order may request a modification of the order, and, in some cases, the prosecution handling the domestic violence case may also request a modification. In some cases where a restraining order requires the defendant to move out of the home they may share with the victim or cut off access to their children, the defendant may ask for a modification of the criminal protective order, claiming that they are unable to comply with some or all of its terms due to financial hardship, for example.
In other cases, the protected party may also request a modification in an attempt to seek reconciliation with the defendant or allow the defendant to have contact with their children. It is not unusual for a criminal court to defer the decision of modifying restraining orders to a family court whenever the parties have an ongoing custody and visitation case. Some restraining orders may be downgraded from a full stay-away and no-contact order to a peaceful contact order, which allows the defendant to maintain contact with the victim but prohibits the defendant from threatening or harming the protected party in any manner.
If a defendant has previously convinced the court to modify their domestic violence restraining order to a more lenient format and has since violated the order, the prosecution may ask the court for a modification. If the court agrees, the order may be modified to full no-contact, and the defendant may also be facing consequences for violating the terms of their restraining order.
If you are a party in a restraining order and wish to have your order changed or extended, it may be in your best interest to contact an attorney. While you are not required to have an attorney for this process, it may be beneficial to rely on the skills and knowledge of a skilled professional to ensure you are taking all the correct steps in your case. Whether you are seeking to have your order modified to a less strict level, such as a peaceful contact order, or have reasons to believe you are still at risk as a victim and need to extend your restraining orders to protect yourself, contact the Hurwitz Law Group at 323-310-9677 to learn more about how we can help you.