Skip to main content

Are you a legal professional? Visit our professional site

Guided Legal Forms & Services: Sign In

Please enter a legal issue and/or a location
Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

California Protective Orders Laws

Last updated 11/19/2019

In most states, including California, protective order laws often come into play in domestic violence cases. Such court orders state that an abusive spouse, for example, may not come within a stated distance of a named individual for a period of time. In California, protective orders (also called "restraining orders") may be in place for up to three years but may be made permanent in some cases.

What Can the Court/Law Enforcement Do to Protect Me?

The court can order law enforcement within its jurisdiction to protect you and your immediate family members who live with you. Sometimes the court will protect family members who live reasonably close to your home.

What Can I Do If the Defendant Refuses To Follow the Protective Order?

If the defendant does not follow the order, call the police immediately. The restrained person can be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor, a felony, or a contempt of court. Taking or concealing a child in violation of the order may be a felony and punishable by confinement in state prison, a fine, or both. Traveling across state or tribal boundaries with the intent to violate the order may be punishable as a federal offense under the Violence Against Women Act.

The basic provisions of California protective order laws are listed in the table below. See Domestic Violence: Orders of Protection and Restraining Orders for more information.

Code Section
Activity Addressed by Order
  • Enjoining contact; excluding from dwelling; enjoining specific behavior; regarding minor child: custody, visitations. Penal code: any person who has domestic abuse perpetrated against him/her as shown by affidavit of reasonable proof
  • Assembly bill 1396 authorizes the court to order the restrained party to participate in mandatory anger management or clinical counseling, if it deems appropriate. 
Duration of Order
  • Emergency order: the earlier of the close of the 5th business day after issue or 7 calendar days. Others: 3 year maximum unless extended by office or parties stipulate to permanent order
Penalty for a Violation of Order
  • 1 year and/or $1,000; with physical injury: $2,000 or 30 days to 1 yr. in jail or both; subsequent conviction: $2,000, 6 mos.-1 yr. jail, or both, or state imprisonment
Who May Apply for Order
  • Spouse, cohabitant, fiance/fiancee, parent of one's child, blood relations.
Can Fees Be Waived?
  • -
Order Transmission to Law Enforcement
  • By the close of business on day of issuance; local law enforcement agency must notify the Department of Justice for domestic violence protective order registry
Civil Liability for Violation of Order
  • -

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

California Protective Orders Law: Related Resources

Need a Protective Order? An Attorney Can Help

While California protective orders can be used to protect individuals facing domestic violence, it's important to note that they are not limited to those situations. For example, courts can issue protective orders if someone is the victim of stalking or other forms of harassment from strangers. Whatever the situation, you should always consider at least speaking with an expert before taking action. A criminal law attorney in California can help you understand how protective orders work.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

Or contact an attorney near you:

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.

Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?

  • Complex criminal defense situations usually require a lawyer
  • Defense attorneys can help protect your rights
  • A lawyer can seek to reduce or eliminate criminal penalties

Get tailored advice and ask your legal questions. Many California attorneys offer free consultations.


 If you need an attorney, find one right now.

Copied to clipboard

Find a Lawyer

More Options