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Renewing Your Restraining Order Based on Past Violations

In 2013, the California court of appeal decided an important case regarding renewals of restraining orders. The court of appeal held that a finding of knowing violations of an existing restraining order is a sufficient basis for the court to renew said restraining order.

In Lister v. Bowen, (2013) 215 CA4th 319, a protected party requested the renewal of a restraining order based on stalking behavior that was issued 3 years earlier, citing several instances since the initial order when the restrained party’s actions had caused her fear and apprehension. She indicated that he had sent her mail, contacted members of her family, and appeared in her neighborhood and at her place of employment, where he was permitted to go, but only for work-related matters. These were all open and knowing violations of the restraining order.

After a hearing at which both parties appeared and testified, the court issued a 5-year renewal of the order under Fam C §6345. Following the restrained party’s motion for reconsideration under CCP §1008(a), the trial court only reduced the length of the order from 5 to 3 years.

The restrained party appealed, claiming that reversal was necessary because the trial court improperly applied Fam C §6345, because the evidence did not show the restrained party had an objectively reasonable apprehension of future abuse, which is required for the protected party to prove for a renewal. He also claimed that the court erred in issuing an overbroad injunction that improperly invaded his associational interests with the restrained party’s workplace, where he had business ties.

The court of appeal affirmed the trial court’s order. It found that the trial court was within its discretion to conclude that the evidence presented at the hearing indicated it was more probable than not there was a sufficient risk of future abuse and to find that the restrained party’s apprehension was genuine and reasonable under the standard set forth in Ritchie v Konrad (2004) 115 CA4th 1275. In other words, the court found that the protected party did have a genuine and reasonable apprehension of the restrained party based on his blatant violations of the soon-to-expire restraining order.

The court rejected as unconvincing the restrained party’s contentions that the actions the protected party complained of were nonviolent, mostly between himself and the protected party’s family members, and remote in time. In light of evidence that he knowingly violated the protective order by going to her place of work on non-work-related matters, it was more probable than not there was a sufficient risk of future abuse to cause reasonable apprehension to the protected party, particularly considered in light of the similarity to the behavior on which the initial order was based.

The court further dismissed the restrained party’s claims that the restraining order impeded his ability to secure work, because the trial court’s order still permitted him access to certain offices of the restrained party’s employer for income-producing purposes.

If you have a restraining order that is about to expire, and you would like to renew, contact andattorney at Cage & Miles, LLP today to discuss your options. If you still fear for your safety, we can help you stay protected.