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Civil Contempt Proceedings as a Remedy For Restraining Order Violations

Posted by Brian Michaels | Apr 13, 2023 | 0 Comments

In California, a court can find a person in civil contempt if they violate a Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO).

If a person violates a DVRO, the protected party can file a motion for an order to show cause for contempt. The court will then schedule a hearing where the person who allegedly violated the DVRO (the respondent) must show cause as to why they should not be held in contempt.

At the hearing, the petitioner (the person who obtained the DVRO) must prove that the respondent violated the DVRO by presenting evidence such as witness testimony, police reports, and other relevant evidence. If the court finds that the respondent did, in fact, violate the DVRO, the court can then find them in civil contempt and impose penalties.

The penalties for civil contempt for violating a DVRO in California can include fines, community service, and even jail time. In some cases, the respondent may also be required to attend counseling or complete other court-ordered programs.

It's important to note that violating a DVRO is a serious offense and can result in criminal charges in addition to civil penalties. If the respondent is charged with a criminal offense, they may face more severe penalties, including longer jail sentences and larger fines.

A person who is found in civil contempt of a restraining order in California is not entitled to a public defender.

Civil contempt proceedings are considered to be civil cases, not criminal cases. As a result, there is no constitutional right to a court-appointed attorney in civil contempt proceedings, even if the respondent faces potential jail time as a penalty.

However, the court may allow the respondent to have an attorney present at the hearing, but the respondent would need to hire the attorney or represent themselves. The court may also provide the respondent with information on how to obtain legal representation.

It's important to note that violating a restraining order is a serious offense, and the penalties for civil contempt can be severe, including fines and even imprisonment. If the respondent is facing a civil contempt hearing, they should consider consulting with an attorney or seeking legal assistance to help them prepare their case and present their defense.

The amount of jail time that a person can face in a civil contempt trial in California for violating a restraining order can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case.

In general, civil contempt proceedings are not intended to punish the respondent but rather to coerce them into complying with the court's order. The goal of civil contempt is to encourage compliance, so the court will typically impose penalties that are designed to encourage the respondent to comply with the order.

In some cases, the court may impose a fine, community service, or other non-custodial penalties for civil contempt. However, in more serious cases, the court may impose a jail sentence as a penalty for civil contempt. The length of the jail sentence can vary depending on the severity of the violation, the respondent's prior record, and other factors.

It's important to note that civil contempt penalties are meant to be remedial, not punitive. As a result, the court will typically release the respondent from jail as soon as they comply with the court's order.

If you are facing a civil contempt trial in California for violating a restraining order, it's important to consult with an attorney or seek legal advice to help you prepare your defense and understand the potential penalties you may face.


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Brian Michaels

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