There are several reasons a protective court order may have been issued against you. When you are issued a protective court order, it’s important that you pay careful attention to what it says and that you follow it to the letter. The fact that you received the court order indicates that you’re in legal trouble. Violating the court order will only make things worse.
Orders of protection in California are addressed in the California Penal Code 273.6 PC. This code clearly lays out the consequences associated with failing to maintain the court-ordered distance from the person who arranged for the court order.
One of the first things you have to understand about the protective court order is that it can’t be used as a form of entrapment. For example, while the court order prevents you from getting close to or being in the same building as the people named in the court order, they can’t show up someplace that you’re already at and promptly have you arrested. For example, if you’re already at a grocery store and the person who arranged for the court order shows up while you’re checking out, you haven’t violated the court order.
However, if you both accidentally end up at the grocery store and you end up following the other person throughout the store or you start shouting at them, you will be violating the court order with your actions and will likely be arrested.
To get a violation of a protective court order conviction, the prosecution must prove that:
- The protective order was lawfully issued (it can’t be something that a legal firm simply drew up). That you knew about the court order.
- That you could understand and follow the stipulations laid out in the court order.
- That you willfully violated the court order.
Violating a California protective court order is a serious affair.
The first time you’re convicted of violating a California court order it’s a misdemeanor offense. A guilty conviction could result in you spending a year in a county jail and/or be issued a fine that’s as much as $1,000. It’s also possible that you have to do some court-ordered community service.
The situation is considerably more serious if you already have a history of violating protective court orders or if you committed an act of violence during the violation. In this situation, you’ll be charged with felony violation of a court order. The maximum sentence for a felony violation of a court order conviction in California is up to three years in a state prison and/or a $10,000 fine.
Not only is a violation of a court order charge serious on its own, but the violation can also damage any case that involves you and the person who petitioned for the court order.
In the long run, it’s best to calmly accept the terms of the court order and maintain your distance from whoever arranged for the court order. It’s in your bests interest to argue about the matter once everyone is in court.