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3 Commonly asked questions about protective orders

Some people have difficulty letting go after a bad breakup. Others may deal with anger and violence issues, making it unsafe for them to be around their families. And sometimes, individuals can develop unhealthy obsessions with complete strangers. When instances like these happen, a court will usually introduce a protective order into the picture.


What is a protective order?

A protective order, also known as a restraining order, is a legal order that a petitioner can file to protect themselves from threats, harassment, stalking or abuse. Some restraining orders can protect more than one person. In California, there are four different types of protective orders:

  • Elder or dependent adult abuse
  • Civil harassment
  • Workplace violence
  • Domestic violence

These types of restraining orders can be emergency protective orders (EOP), temporary restraining orders (TRO), or permanent restraining orders.

What can a protective order include?

Most general restraining orders involve a variety of conditions. For example, personal conduct orders prevent a restrained person from contacting, sending messages, attacking, following, threatening or destroying personal property of the petitioner and any other protected persons.

Restraining orders can also include stay-away orders. This restricts a restrained person from coming within a certain distance of the petitioner. It can also keep them away from homes, places of work, schools and even vehicles.

Domestic violence and elder abuse protective orders can include orders of residence exclusion, sometimes called “kick-out” or “move-out” orders. These orders force a restrained person to immediately move out of the protected person’s residence. The restrained person can only take their clothes and personal belongings with them.

How long will a protective order last?

The length of the orders will depend on what type of protective order a petitioner files. For example, an emergency order is available 24 hours a day and can last up to seven days.

A temporary order, however, requires paperwork before a judge will grant the petitioner an order. TROs can last anywhere from 20 to 25 days, usually until a court hearing can take place.

Finally, a permanent order technically only lasts up to five years. However, after those five years, a petitioner can renew the restraining order to remain under its protection for another five years.

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