One aspect that is unique to domestic violence cases in Los Angeles is the court issuing a criminal protective order against a defendant. If you were charged or convicted of a domestic violence related crime, then you will normally be subjected to a protective order that will prohibit contacting the victim for a specified amount of time.
When you appear in court for your arraignment on domestic violence, you will be served with a copy of the protective order and the terms are read to ensure you understand them. Protective orders frequently create a severe hardship on families because:
- a spouse can't contact the protected party family members;
- no text messages, email, or electronic communication.
It should be noted, however, there are situations where the judge will allow peaceful contact between family members.
If you are convicted of domestic violence and placed on probation, the criminal court judge is required to issue a protective order as a condition the probation as described under California Penal Code 1203.097 PC.
If you violate the terms of the protective order, you could be facing a probation violation that carries harsh penalties. Due to these issues, we often receive questions from a protected person on how they can change the terms of the protective order or even terminate it entirely.
Thus, this article will address the issue of requesting modification of a criminal protective order in a California domestic violence case. Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers are providing a detailed review below.
What is a Full Stay-Away and No-Contact Protective Order?
The most common and harsh type of a criminal protective order is a full stay-away and full no-contact order. This type of protective order prohibits the defendant from:
- contact of any form with the protected persons, including;
- alleged victim of domestic violence;
- minor children who may have witnessed the domestic violence.
Once a defendant appears in court for the first time on a domestic violence allegation, the judge will have no feedback from the victim or defense lawyer, so they will normally issue a full stay-away order.
This type of protective order mandates major changes in a defendant's life. For example, they might have to move out of their own home and won't have access to their children.
Further, this could cause them to spend a significant amount of money in order to move into a new home.
For these reasons and others, it's common for a defendant to request a modification of the criminal protective order that was issued against them.
Will the Court Modify the Terms of a Protective Order?
It's not uncommon for the named protected person to seek changes in the protective order so they can have contact with the defendant. The most common reasons to seek a modification include:
- make an attempt to reconcile their relationship;
- have peaceful contact allowing defendant to spend time with the children.
A common reason the criminal court judge will modify a criminal protective order is when a family law or dependency court issues a visitation and/or custody order.
These courts specialize in family reunification and are more aware of the details of an alleged abusive relationship than the criminal court.
This means a criminal court judge will typically defer to the judgment of family or dependency courts on the issue of peaceful contact.
The criminal protective order forms that are used by the court actually have a box that can be checked for this purpose and are a quire common request from domestic violence defendant's.
What is a Peaceful Contact Order?
There are cases when the alleged victim wants to seek a less restrictive protective order which is known as a “peaceful contact order.”
This type of domestic violence criminal protective order will allow a defendant to have any amount of contact they want with the victim as long as it's peaceful, which means they can't do any of the following:
- make threats of harm.
Any threats against the victim that are communicated through a third party by the defendant is also a violation of a peaceful contact order.
Can the Prosecutor Request Modification of a Protective Order?
If the circumstances justify a request to modify a criminal protective order in a domestic violence case, the prosecutor is also allowed to seek changes from the court.
This would normally occur in a situation when the court imposed a more lenient criminal protective order against a defendant, such as a peaceful contact order.
In most cases where a prosecutor will seek modification, it will involve allegations that the defendant:
- violated the terms of the current protective order, or;
- engaged in other conduct that justifies increasing level of restriction.
After the court receives such a request from the prosecution, they will closely evaluate the details in order to make a decision. If the judge finds it necessary, they will increase the level of restriction in the protective order to a:
- full stay-away, or;
- no-contact order.
Violating a domestic violence criminal protective order is a separate crime, typically prosecuted as a misdemeanor offense, but also a violation on the bail conditions.
In a felony case of domestic violence, the defendant will normally be required to post $50,000 or more in cash bail to get released from custody.
In a situation where bail was revoked for violating a criminal protective order, the bail amount will significantly be increased by the judge.
Call Our Law Firm for Help With a Protective Order
If you want to change or terminate a protective order, then both parties will need to return to court in order for the judge to formally change the terms.
If a you are on probation, then the judge will normally ask the protected party some questions to ensure they aren't under any type of duress or coercion to change the order.
If you or a family member is facing domestic violence charges and likely to be subjected to a criminal protective order issued by the court, call our experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers to review the details of the case.
We have a record success representing both defendants and victims in issues dealing with domestic violence criminal protective orders.
Cron, Israels & Stark is a top-ranked criminal law firm located at 11755 Wilshire Blvd, 15th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90025. We also have an office at 401 Wilshire Blvd #1200, Santa Monica, CA 90401.
Contact our firm for a free case evaluation at (424) 372-3112.