Before becoming a criminal defense attorney and family lawyer Attorney Michaels was a front line Prosecutor in Los Angeles during the mid 1990s when the entire landscape around criminal and civil domestic violence changed. The death of Nicole Brown Simpson brought to the forefront the under prosecution of domestic violence and related crimes between spouses and laws were literally re-written overnight and Prosecutors were re-tasked with taking extreme levels of aggression in prosecuting these cases to the point where government lawyers were many times forced to arrest their own victims to come to court in search of convictions.
This dynamic has not changed much since then and Domestic Violence related crimes receive higher levels of scrutiny and punishment. Our restraining order cases often come tangled with criminal liability or the threat of criminal liability which makes our firm stand out from the pack who are mostly family lawyers and who have little to no understanding of or training in the criminal courts.
You could be facing both a restraining order and a criminal case and the interplay between the two can be tricky and an inexperienced lawyer could walk you into even more trouble then you were in before when your case was just a restraining order. Misdemeanor charges for Domestic Violence, Battery, Terrorist Threats and other charges come out of these same fact patterns. Similarly its important your lawyer know and understand the severe criminal consequences of receiving one of these orders which can involve years of jail. When the facts don't bode well for our client many times we will try to negotiate their way out of the order, often with success.
Similarly victims of spousal violence may also be a witness in a pending or active criminal case in which they may be working with law enforcement and the DA and we have been very successful in putting our old prosecutorial hat on to help police and prosecutors to build a better case and have often been successful in helping victims who are not being adequately assisted by the system to get criminal charges filed where none had been before. We do this with great satisfaction when the allegations are righteous and the extra benefit of having your own "private prosecutor" can go a long way to help you or your family member get justice in their criminal matter.
This seems a good place to talk about one other form of Protective Order not previously mentioned. The Emergency Protective Order of (EPO) is a very short term order that is largely a tool of law enforcement which can be and are often issued in conjunction with the arrest of someone charged with a violent domestic crime. They are very short term sometimes as little as ten days and meant to provide a brief window for a victim to seek the help of a Restraining Order lawyer who can quickly apply for a an emergency Civil Temporary Restraining Order. Many times these will overlap.
The most common charge coming out of civil restraining order can be found in Penal Code Section 273.6
California Penal Code section 273.6 makes it illegal to violate a protective order, including a domestic violence restraining order, elder abuse restraining order, workplace violence restraining order, or civil harassment restraining order. Violation of this section is a misdemeanor offense.
Under California Penal Code section 273.6, a person can violate a protective order in several ways, including:
Contacting or attempting to contact the protected person: This includes contacting the protected person directly or indirectly, such as through a third party or social media.
Coming within a certain distance of the protected person: This includes coming within a certain distance of the protected person's home, workplace, school, or other locations.
Engaging in any other behavior prohibited by the protective order: This can include behaviors such as stalking, harassing, or threatening the protected person.
To be convicted of violating California Penal Code section 273.6, the prosecution must prove that the defendant knew about the protective order and intentionally violated its terms. The penalties for violating this section can include up to one year in county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. Repeat offenders or those with prior convictions for domestic violence or related offenses may face harsher penalties.
In California, battery is a criminal offense that involves the intentional and unlawful use of force or violence on another person. Specifically, battery is defined under California Penal Code Section 242 as "any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another."
To be charged with battery in California, the prosecution must prove that the accused person willfully touched another person in a harmful or offensive manner. The harm can be physical, such as hitting or pushing, or it can be offensive, such as spitting or throwing something at the victim.
Battery can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the severity of the harm caused to the victim. If the battery causes serious bodily injury, permanent disability, or disfigurement, it is considered a felony and can result in a prison sentence.
It's important to note that the victim of a battery does not need to sustain any physical injury in order for the accused person to be charged with the crime. The mere act of touching someone in a harmful or offensive way can constitute battery under California law.
Prosecutors can also look to Penal Code Section 166 commonly known as contempt.