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Violating a Restraining or Protective Order in California – Penal Code 273.6

The Crime of Violation of a Protection Order in California - Penal Code 273.6

California Penal Code 273.6 makes it a crime for someone to violate the terms of a court-ordered protective order, restraining order, or stay-away order.

Criminal protective orders (CPO's) are restraining orders issued by a criminal court judge involving a domestic violence prosecution.

Violating a Restraining or Protective Order in California – Penal Code 273.6
California Penal Code 273.6 makes it a crime to violate a restraining order.

They are normally issued in California criminal cases to restrain a defendant from harassing, abusing, stalking, or threatening the alleged victim.

A protective order is almost always issued by a judge in criminal cases that involve violence or when there are credible threats of violence.

Again, protective and restraining orders are mostly connected directly with domestic violence cases.

Penal Code 273.6 defines the violation:

  • “Any intentional and knowing violation of a protective order is a misdemeanor offense that is punishable by up to one year in a county jail, and fine up to $1,000, or both jail and a fine. “

The type of conduct that a protective order will attempt to prohibit will always depend on the specific details of the case. 

It will actually provide and outline and dictate the type of behavior that's prohibited or acceptable.

Types of Protective Orders and Contact Prohibited

The type of protective orders that would fall under Penal Code 273.6 include:

  • Domestic violence protective orders
  • Civil harassment restraining orders
  • Elder abuse protective orders
  • Workplace violence protective orders

In most cases, the CPO will order to the restrained person to avoid any form of contact with the protected person, including:

  • Personal contact
  • Text messages
  • Email
  • Phone calls
  • Social media

The restrained person will also be required remain a certain distance away from the victim.

To give readers a better understanding of PC 273.6 violating a California restraining or protective order, our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers are providing a review below.

 Levels of California Protective Orders

There are different levels of criminal protective orders which have different restrictions. These include:

  • Full stay-away order
  • Peaceful contact order

The most restrictive form of a CPO is a full stay-away order, which is a no-contact order prohibiting defendant from contacting or being near the alleged victim.

Restraining Orders in California
Restraining orders in California

Less restrictive protective orders are issued for many reasons. For example, a less than full-stay-away order is issued when the couple shares minor children.

Clearly, full stay-away would interfere with the couple's ability to exchange the children and otherwise co-parent. 

In these type of situations, the judge will normally defer to custody and visitation orders that were issued by a family law court as they are more familiar with the particular family issues.   

The victim could address the court and request a less restrictive CPO, which are commonly known as a “peaceful contact order.”

Peaceful contact protective orders could allow the defendant to continue living with the victim or contact them by phone or other electronic devices as long as the contact doesn't involve violence, threats, stalking, or intimidation, and remains peaceful.

What Factors Must Be Proven for a PC 273.6 Violation?

In order to prove a defendant violated a protective order under California Penal Code 273.6, the prosecutor has to prove the following elements of the crime:

  • The court lawfully issued a protective order
  • Defendant knew about the court order
  • Defendant had the ability to follow the order, and
  • Defendant willfully violated the protective order

Criminal protective orders normally remain in effect until the case is resolved in court and could potentially be extend up to ten years after the case part of the defendant's sentence. 

What Are the Penalties for a CPO Violation?

A California Penal Code 273.6 violation of a criminal protective order can have harsh consequences. It's a misdemeanor offense that carries the following penalties:

  • Up to one year in a county jail
  • A fine up to $1,000

The case can become a “wobbler” if defendant has a prior violation or the current violation involved an act of violence.

If convicted of a felony, the penalties include:

  • Up to three years in a California state prison
  • A fine up to $10,000

The judge could immediately remand the defendant to the custody if they determine the defendant violated the protective order.   

Penalties for violation of a California restraining order
Penalties for violation of a California restraining order

Even after the case was resolved, a violation of the protective order is a separate misdemeanor offense that can result in jail time and fines.

It should be noted that violating the criminal protective order also be considered a probation violation and the court can impose any sentence up to the maximum for the underlying offense. 

What Are the Related California Offenses?

As stated, a Penal Code 273.6 violation of a restraining or protective order are typically connected to some related California domestic violence offenses, including:

How Can I Fight Violating a Protective Order Charges?

Our experienced criminal defense lawyers will always advise our domestic violence clients to strictly adhere to the conditions of the criminal protective order. 

If you have been accused of a PC 273.6 violation of a protective order, there are some common defenses, including:

Defenses for violating a restraining order in California
Defenses for violating a restraining order in California
  • Not a willful act
  • Lack of knowledge
  • False allegation

Not a willful act 

Recall the elements of the crime above where the prosecutor has to prove that you willfully violated the protective.

We might be able to make a reasonable argument that while you may have committed a violation, it was an accident and not on purpose.

Lack of knowledge

Again, recall the elements of the crime above where it must be proven you had knowledge of the protective order.

We might be able to argue you didn't know that the protective order had been issued.

False allegation

It's not uncommon for someone to be falsely accused of violating a protective order.

Perhaps the alleged victim has other motives after the relationship ended and made the allegations out of anger or jealously.

Get Help from a Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer

If you or a family member has been arrested and charged with a violating a protective order or domestic violence offense, contact our experienced team of Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys.

Our law firm has represented many defendants who have been charged with domestic violence offenses in Los Angeles courts and have litigated issues related to CPOs on behalf of our clients. 

Eisner Gorin LLP is a top-rated criminal defense law firm located at 1875 Century Park E #705, Los Angeles, CA 90067.

Our main office is next to the Van Nuys Courthouse in the San Fernando Valley at 14401 Sylvan St #112 Van Nuys, CA 91401.

Contact our firm to review the details of your case at (877) 781-1570.

We speak English, Russian, Armenian, and Spanish.

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