Violating a protective order, sometimes called a “restraining order,” amounts to contempt of court and is a criminal offense under California Penal Code 273.6. Judges can issue protective orders in connection with both criminal and civil cases. Judges frequently issue protective orders in connection with California domestic-violence related offenses. Even if the order was issued in a civil case setting, a violation of the order is still a crime.

In order to convict a defendant of violating a civil protective order, the prosecutor must prove:

  1. There was a valid protective order in place that was legally issued by a judge;

  2. The defendant had knowledge of the protective order’s existence and terms; And

  3. The defendant intentionally violated the terms of the order.


Protective order violations are usually charged as misdemeanor offenses, which carry penalties of up to one year in county jail, probation, fines of up to $1000. The crime can be charged as a felony under certain circumstances, depending on whether the defendant has previously been convicted of violating a protective order and whether the alleged violation resulted in any injuries to the victim. If charged as a felony, the penalties can be even more severe, including time in state prison, and fines of up to $10,000.


There are several effective defenses to charges of violating a protective order:

  • You did not know that there was a protective order in place

  • Your alleged actions in violating the order were not intentional

  • False accusation.

Furthermore, the prosecutor must meet the heavy burden of proving the case beyond a reasonable doubt. In the absence of corroborating evidence, the case may be reduced to a “he said, she said” situation, which the prosecutor may have a difficult time meeting this burden of proof.


A conviction for a misdemeanor or felony becomes part of your criminal record, which can have a serious impact on your life. For example, the court can consider your prior conviction and impose a harsher sentence if you are convicted of a crime in a new case. Not to mention, a criminal record, even a misdemeanor conviction, can hurt you when you are looking for a job or applying to rent a house or apartment.

The attorney at the Law Office of Brett Parker Davison has extensive knowledge of the system and can begin building a strategy for your defense immediately. We highly encourage you to contact us to schedule a free consultation of your case at (909) 480-8094!