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When you are served with a restraining order, you’re typically required to refrain from making contact with a specific individual. But what happens if you fail to do so? Below is an overview of the consequences associated with violating a restraining order in California.




In California, the punishment for violating a restraining order depends on the number of times it is violated and whether the person protected by the order is harmed. Specifically:


  • The first violation of a restraining order is a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. And if a violation results in physical injury to a protected individual, then the offender must serve at least 30 days in jail and pay a fine of up to $2,000.


  • A second or subsequent violation is a felony that is punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

The first violation of a restraining order is a misdemeanor

How is a restraining order violated in California?


A mere accusation that you’ve violated the terms of a restraining order is not enough to warrant a conviction. Rather, in order to convict you of a restraining order violation, the prosecution must prove the following elements:


  1. A restraining order was lawfully issued against you,
  2. The restraining order was directed at your conduct,
  3. You were aware of the restraining order and its contents,
  4. You had the ability to understand the restraining order, and
  5. You intentionally violated the protective order.


Defending a restraining order violation charge


There are a number of defenses available for restraining order violation charges. An experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney will be able to choose the defenses that are the most appropriate for your circumstances. Possible defenses include:


  • The restraining order wasn’t lawful.
  • You didn’t have the ability to understand the restraining order.
  • You unintentionally violated the restraining order.
  • You weren’t aware that a restraining order had been issued against you.
  • The allegations that you violated the restraining order are false.


San Diego Criminal Defense Attorneys


Due to the potential consequences involved, it is important that anyone who is served with a restraining order in San Diego, California, seek the guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. In addition, if you are accused of a San Diego restraining order violation, it is imperative that you seek legal guidance as soon as possible. At the Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, our experienced criminal defense attorneys provide all of our clients with expert legal guidance in order to achieve the most favorable results possible. The talent and experience of our San Diego, California, attorneys ensure that our clients’ cases are handled expertly and with the utmost care. If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges of any kind in California, please contact us immediately for a free consultation.

Author Photo

Kerry L. Armstrong


Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm in June 2007. Mr. Armstrong attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and received his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Kerry L. Armstrong became certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization for criminal law in August 2020, making him one of the few criminal defense attorneys with a criminal law legal specialization certificate in San Diego County.  Between 2014 – 2019, Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys.

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