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What do I do if I’m served with a restraining order?

It’s 9:45 am and your phone rings. The caller ID says that it’s your ex-girlfriend and you smile, hoping that she’s had a chance to think about it, she misses you and is calling to suggest you get together to talk about it. Instead she says “this is formal notice that I’m seeking a temporary restraining order in Orange County today at 1:30”. With that, she hangs up. You show up at court and realize that not only is she seeking a court order to prevent you from contacting her for 3 years, she’s asking for full control over the home you share together and attorneys fees.

Sheriff deputies show up at your door, confirm your identity and hand you a restraining order, telling you that you need to stay at least 300 yards away from Joe Schmoe, the jerk who works down the office hallway, who you’ve been waiting for the boss to fire. What does this mean? Can you legally even show up at work?

If you are served with a temporary restraining order, domestic violence restraining order or civil harassment restraining order, you must act fast! Typically, when a person files for a restraining order, they are only required to give a few hours notice. They usually call in the morning and tell you that a hearing will be set for 1:30. “Hearing” is a generous word- the first stage is not really a hearing at all. That is, a judge is not really looking to weigh evidence and credibility, nor to hear legal argument. He just doesn’t have time for that. He’s got 37 applications to shift through before it’s time to go home for the night. He’s looking only to see if the minimum is present to allow him to issue the temporary restraining order. He then schedules another hearing in about 3 weeks and says that you’ll have a chance to make your case then.

What is the minimum required for a temporary restraining order? Not as much as you think. Any violence (a push, a slap) may warrant a restraining order, but violence or even the threat of violence is not necessary. Restraining orders can be granted on grounds of “harrassment” or even “disturbing the peace”. Texts, phone calls, emails- if considered harassing or untoward, all of these can be sufficient for a restraining order.

A restraining order may have dire consequences. Not only does it prevent you from having contact with the restrained person or place, it can have immigration, licensing and employment consequences. It will become part of your RAP sheet or permanent record. Forever.

At the Law Offices of Staycie R. Sena we are skilled in defending unwarranted restraining order cases. We can get into court with you quickly, present your evidence, cross-examine the person seeking the restraining order and expose any true motives.  If you have been served with a temporary restraining order, call the Law Offices of Staycie R. Sena at 949-477-8088 for a free consultation today.

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