What is a domestic relations protective order?
Orange County Courts offer protective orders to people who have been or have reason to believe that they could be the victim of abusive behavior on the part of a partner, spouse, or similar person. Specifically:
- A restraining order (also called a “protective order”) is a court order that can protect someone from being physically or sexually abused, threatened, stalked, or harassed. The person getting the restraining order is called the “protected person.” The person the restraining order is against is the “restrained person.” Sometimes, restraining orders include other “protected persons” like family or household members of the protected person.
A person may request a domestic violence restraining order in cases of abuse by someone with whom the person claiming abuse has “a close relationship (i.e., married or registered domestic partners, divorced, separated, dating or used to date, have a child together, or live together or used to live together—but more than roommates), or to whom they are closely related (parent, child, brother, sister, grandmother, grandfather, in-law).
In many cases, an order of protection is imposed by a judge in cases of actual or domestic violence or credible evidence that domestic violence may occur; i.e., there have been threats.
They are normally issued to ensure that an alleged victim is protected from being harassed, abused, stalked, or threatened by a defendant.
Under California Penal Code 273.6, it is a crime for someone to violate the terms of a court-ordered protective order, restraining order, or stay-away order.
Punishment for violation includes:
- Any intentional and knowing violation of a protective order is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.
Can the victim of domestic violence drop the charges in Orange County?
The short answer to that is “no.”
While those who have leveled accusations of domestic violence may (and often do) change their minds after time has passed and want charges dismissed, they cannot legally do so.
Once the police are called, once an arrest is made, and once charges are made, it is out of the victim’s hands.
In large part, it is because the State (that is, the government) brings charges—not the victim. This means that the District Attorneys have sole discretion whether charges are filed or dismissed.
While it may seem odd, the fact is that in the American judicial system, criminal cases “are seen as disputes between the government and individuals accused of crime.”
As such, the prosecution (District Attorney) bases decisions on the totality of evidence: police reports, 911 call transcripts, the type and degree of any injuries, prior record of those involved, and witness testimony.
The testimony of the victim is often a pivotal factor in not just the outcome of a case, but whether the case would even meet the “reasonable doubt” standard.
In fact, the victim has the right to refuse to testify.
While the prosecution can continue trying an accused person even without the testimony of the victim, it makes their job much more difficult as they bear the burden of proof.
As your Orange County domestic violence defense attorney, we only need to prove a reasonable alternative explanation that does not involve the accused committing a crime.