What does it take to renew a restraining order?

If you have an existing restraining order against an abusive ex-partner, what does it take to renew it? A recent decision by the California Appellate Court provides some important clarification on the matter.

Initially, a lower court ruled that a domestic violence victim was not entitled to renew and extend the protective order she had against her ex-boyfriend even though he had physically abused their children and harassed her by phone and text multiple times since the original order was obtained. In some of his phone calls and texts he mentioned the kids and said that they would "pay the price" for their mother's continued involvement with the court.

According to the lower court's logic, the violence against the children wasn't relevant to their mother's case. In addition, the lower court ruled that the victim couldn't renew the protective order unless she could show the court that there was new abuse or explicit threats of a physical nature from her ex. The court reasoned that the phone calls and texts were intentionally annoying -- but not actually abusive.

The appellate court disagreed. Under California's laws, one of the specific definitions of abuse includes acts that would make a reasonable person afraid for his or her own physical safety or the safety of another. Another definition includes any act that could be prohibited via a restraining order -- which would include any annoying or harassing phone calls and texts.

By reversing the lower court's ruling, the higher court essentially reinforces several key things that victims (and their abusers) need to keep in mind:

  • It doesn't take physical violence to be abusive.
  • Victims are entitled to protection from all forms of abuse, including the psychological or emotional abuse that comes from threats aimed at their children or other family members.
  • Any contact that violates a restraining order is enough to warrant the extension of the protective order.

If you're the victim of domestic violence, it's important to seek help with protective orders when you need it. If you're in need of assistance when you're trying to renew an order, talk to an attorney about your case.

Source: www.policeone.com, "Domestic violence restraining orders: 3 takeaways from the recent court decision," David Cropp, June 30, 2017

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