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Criminal Protective Orders

Posted by Michael Geller | Feb 01, 2022 | 0 Comments

Criminal protective orders are routinely utilized by judges in California overseeing domestic violence criminal cases. In fact, in these types of cases, a California court will typically issue a criminal protective order as a matter course. This is done because a criminal protective order is essentially a type of restraining order.

Criminal Protective Order Defined

A criminal protective order is an official order entered by a judge that will help protect the victim of a crime, or witness to a crime, from some other person. This person is routinely the defendant being prosecuted for criminal charges such as domestic violence. However, it is worth noting that criminal protective orders may last up to 10 years and a violation can occur at any time during the length of the order.

Most jurisdictions in California utilize two general types of criminal protective orders: (i) No Contact Orders, and (ii) Peaceful Contact Orders.

No-Contact Protective Orders

A No Contact Order declares that there shall be no contact whatsoever between the protected person and the defendant or abuser. In addition, a No Contact Order will routinely stipulate that the defendant cannot come within 100 yards of the protected person, who is the alleged victim in the case. Furthermore, the defendant cannot contact the protected person, whether by:

  • phone,
  • e-mail,
  • social media, or
  • through a third party acting as a proxy or go-between.

Peaceful Contact Protective Orders

A Peaceful Contact Protective Order declares that the protected person and the defendant have the option come into contact with one another, but only if the contact is peaceful. Basically, this type of protective order allows the defendant to remain in contact, and be physically near, the protected person, but prohibits the following actions:

  • striking,
  • threatening,
  • stalking,
  • cyberstalking,
  • molesting,
  • harassing, or
  • otherwise engaging in aggressive or abusive conduct toward the alleged victim.

California criminal courts are much more likely to issue this less-restrictive peaceful contact order in cases where the parties may be parents to a child, or children, and/or reside in the same home.

When Criminal Protective Orders are Typically Issued by a San Francisco Judge

The criminal protective order is normally issued at the time of the defendant's arraignment. They will be required to personally appear in court in order to be formally served with a copy of the order.

A protective order is issued during the court process to protect the alleged victim in domestic violence cases. While the case is pending, a judge will order you stay away from the victim and to stop contacting them.

A judge has the discretionary authority to issue a criminal protective order when they believe it would help protect someone in the following circumstances:

  • Victims of aggression,
  • Family members of the victim, and/or
  • Both the victim and their family

Ramifications for Violating a Criminal Protective Order

A defendant who violates a criminal protective order is exposing themselves to significant punishment. In fact, violating a protective order could result in the defendant being ordered to serve up to one year in jail. In addition, if a defendant is currently serving probation, or is on parole, a violation of a protective order may result in a formal violation of the terms of their respective probation or parole.

Ramifications for violating a criminal protective order can be found in California Penal Code Section 273.6. First and foremost, adherence to the provisions of the criminal protective order is a requirement of bond, if any has been posted, or of own-recognizance release. For that reason, a violation entitles the court to revoke the defendant's bond or O.R. status and place them into custody.

If you are charged with a second offense for violating a protective order, or a violation that involves an act of violence, you could be charged with felony and punished by up to three years in jail or prison.

This is why it is so important to do your best to adhere to the terms of the order. Why? Because, on a practical level, displaying an unwillingness to comply with a criminal protective order will sabotage plea negotiations and likely result in the defendant foregoing opportunities for a favorable disposition.

Conversely, showing good compliance is a mitigating factor which may help resolve the case successfully.  Accordingly, strict compliance with the criminal protective order, however burdensome on the defendant, is always in the client's best interest.

In addition to potentially being placed in custody, a violation of a criminal protective order is a separate misdemeanor criminal offense which carries potential jail time and other penalties.

Defendants Charged with Violating a Protective Order Have Rights

If you are being charged with allegedly violating a protective order, it is important to know that you still have the right to a formal violation hearing. In addition, if new charges are filed against you (as opposed to being raised in an ongoing proceeding), you have all the rights that normally attend to a criminal prosecution.

Defenses That Can Be Raised to an Alleged Violation of a Protective Order

Potential defenses include the following:

  • Inadvertent contact – i.e. the defendant accidentally ran into the protected person in public with no intention to violate the stay-away provisions of the order – or
  • Lack of objective evidence that a violation actually occurred.

Have Questions about Criminal Protective Orders? Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer in San Francisco

If you have questions, or need assistance with, a criminal protective order, The Geller Firm is here to help. We are ready and able to answer your important questions and provide guidance on how to navigate the specific terms of the order. When you retain The Geller Firm, you can be rest assured that our legal team will work tirelessly to advocate for your interests throughout the proceedings.

We are available for virtual and in-person consultations where you will get the chance to speak to a legal professional and explain what happened and what you want to accomplish or achieve. We serve San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, Walnut Creek, Pleasanton, San Rafael, Palo Alto, and the surrounding cities. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

About the Author

Michael Geller

Michael Geller grew up in San Francisco, CA. He attended the University of Southern California for his undergraduate studies, the City University of New York for his medical training, and Santa Clara University School of Law for his legal education.


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