What if I decide not to oppose the restraining order?

If you choose not to oppose, the Court may grant a restraining order against you for up to 5 years. California law requires the Court to post the orders against you in the statewide Domestic Violence Restraining Order System maintained by the California Department of Justice (DOJ). When posted, the orders are visible to law enforcement and authorized court clerks. In addition, all the information about the orders will appear on background checks conducted by the DOJ. The DOJ conducts background checks for local, state and federal agencies as well as some private employers.

The statewide database is an important tool used by employers when making hiring decisions and when deciding whether to fire or suspend you from your job when an active restraining order against you becomes known. Similarly, when a state licensing board becomes aware of a restraining order against you, they may immediately revoke or suspend your professional license which could jeopardize your employment status. If you apply for a license, a board may deny your application based on the restraining order. In addition, when restraining orders are granted against you, the orders include an automatic order that you not possess a firearm. This may impact your employment if your job or prospective job requires possession of a firearm.

If you are found to have committed domestic violence against the other parent or your children, the Court must consider this when making child custody orders. The law requires the Court to presume that awarding joint or sole legal or physical custody to you is not in the best interest of the children while the restraining order is in place and for five years after it expires.

Should I respond if there is a pending criminal case against me?

If you have a pending criminal case or think the District Attorney's office may bring charges against you, you should seek legal advice before appearing in Family Court or serving and filing your response to the request for a restraining order. Anything you say or put in writing in Family Court can be used against you in your criminal case. Under the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination of the United States Constitution, you have a right not to make incriminating statements against yourself in Court. If you elect to respond to the restraining order while the criminal matter is pending, or prior to being charged, you give up or waive your right to remain silent and the Court can order you to answer questions.

How do I respond?

Carefully review the Request for Domestic Violence Restraining Order, form DV-100 that was served upon you. The form includes the other party's request for orders that the Court will consider at the hearing. If the Court grants the orders requested, they may be in effect for up to five years. If you do not agree with the orders requested, you may complete and file a written response using this packet:

If you have been served with a Request to Renew Restraining Order, and would like to file a response, use this packet

Can I ask for a different hearing date?

Yes. At the hearing you can ask the judge to continue or reschedule the hearing for another date and time. You have a legal right to a continuance if you provide the Court with good reasons for the request. A continuance may provide you with time to hire an attorney or to better prepare for the hearing. If the court grants a continuance, any temporary orders previously granted will remain in effect until the new hearing date.

Will I be able to keep my firearms and ammunition while a restraining order is in effect?

No. If the Court grants either a temporary order or an order after your hearing, the order will automatically require you to relinquish all firearms and ammunition that you possess. You will be ordered to turn in, sell, or store your firearms and ammunition while the order is in effect or you will be subject to being arrested and charged with a crime that may result in your imprisonment of up to one year, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. Within forty-eight hours of receiving service of the restraining order, you must file proof that you turned in the firearms and ammunition to a licensed gun dealer or to law enforcement.

How should I plan for the hearing?

Review the Notice of Hearing, form DV-109, that was served upon you; it will include the date, time, and department number for the hearing. Do not bring children to the courtroom. The judge will not permit children in the courtroom. Plan to arrive early and allow enough time to park, walk from the public lot and get through the security checkpoint at the entrance to the courthouse. If you are absent or late when your case is called and the other party is present, the case may be heard without your participation. Bring an extra copy of your response and all of the papers that were served upon you. Consider bringing evidence that supports your side of the story such as pictures, police reports, and medical records. If you have a witness who can testify to the events, bring that person to the hearing as well. When it is your turn to speak to the judge, be prepared to tell the judge why the restraining order should not be granted. Also, tell the judge if you have a witness or other evidence.