How to Get a Criminal Protective Order Lifted in California (from a California Domestic Violence Defense Attorney)

One of the most unjust policies enforced by the DA’s office in California is the automatic request for a criminal protective order in domestic violence cases at the first court date, regardless of whether the alleged victim desires this protection. This policy disregards the victim’s wishes and imposes undue restrictions on the accused.

Here are the five steps to get rid of a criminal protective order as swiftly as possible.

Step 1: Take Domestic Violence Classes

The first step is to enroll in court-approved domestic violence classes. Although many people resist this advice, fearing it implies guilt, the reality is that these classes provide a safeguard for the prosecutor and judge. By taking these classes, you demonstrate to the court that you are taking the matter seriously and are under professional supervision. This can make the judge and prosecutor more comfortable, reducing their liability.

Start these classes as early as possible. If charges have already been filed, seek out court-approved classes in your county. You can consult your attorney to ensure you attend the correct ones, or you can find court-approved batterers intervention classes online.

Step 2: Get in Front of the Judge

If you already have a criminal protective order against you, your next court date might be 30 to 60 days away. This can be a long wait, especially if you have no alternative housing. To expedite the process, your attorney can request an earlier court date. Procedures vary by county and courtroom, so your attorney will need to navigate these specifics. By getting in front of the judge sooner, you can address the protective order without enduring a lengthy wait.

Step 3: Have the Alleged Victim Attend the Hearing

The alleged victim’s presence at the hearing is crucial. They need to appear before the judge and actively participate in the process. Their testimony can significantly influence the judge’s decision regarding the protective order.

Step 4: Talk to the DA

Ensure that your attorney gives the DA a chance to speak with the alleged victim before the hearing. This step is critical because blindsiding the DA in court can backfire. A good DA, one more interested in justice than merely following office policies, might agree or at least not object to lifting the protective order if they understand the victim’s true wishes.

Step 5: Present Your Case to the Judge

During the hearing, your attorney needs to present proof of your domestic violence classes and any other steps you have taken to comply with court expectations. Inform the judge that you seek a modification or removal of the protective order and that the DA has been notified. The attorney should also highlight the alleged victim’s desire to be heard.

The alleged victim should express to the judge three key points:

  1. They want the protective order lifted and wish to be in contact with the accused.
  2. They are not afraid of the accused.
  3. If anything were to happen, they would call 911.

If the judge denies the request to lift the protective order, your attorney should ask what additional steps you can take to achieve this outcome. This might include further classes or counseling. By complying with these additional requirements, you strengthen your case for lifting the protective order at a subsequent court date.

Setting the next court date sooner, rather than waiting another 30 to 60 days, allows for a quicker resolution and demonstrates to the judge that you are serious about resolving the matter and complying with court requirements.

If you are facing a domestic violence case in California, feel free to contact me for assistance. You can find my contact information below and schedule a consultation.

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