Are Restraining Orders Public Record?

A restraining order is a legal document issued by the court with the intention to keep one person away from another person due to a threat of harassment or abuse. In most cases, a restraining order is public record in California. The sealing and expungement process is reserved for criminal cases, not civil records. Restraining orders can be considered either a criminal or civil court order, but one major commonality is the consequences. In any case, violating a restraining order is treated as a criminal offense.

If there was a criminal charge along with the restraining order, you can file a petition for factual innocence within two years of the arrest. Under California Penal Code 851.PC, a petition for a certificate of factual innocence involves an individual asking the court to make a finding that they did not commit the crime. However, even if you are tried and acquitted of domestic violence charges, and you were granted a Petition for Factual Innocence, this would only destroy police arrest records and criminal court files, not seal the actual restraining order.

Types of Restraining Orders

An important detail to acknowledge in these cases is the fact that the visibility of the record depends on the type of restraining order. There are two main types of restraining orders and a variety of categories that these orders can fall under. The two main types of restraining orders are temporary ex parte orders of protection and final orders of protection. A temporary order typically lasts until there can be a full court hearing. This is usually between 20 to 25 days after the order is filed. Upon going to court, the judge might decide to issue a permanent restraining order. Within these two types of restraining orders are four individual categories, including:

A domestic violence restraining order is a court order that serves to protect individuals from abuse or threats of abuse from someone they had a close relationship with. Individuals can ask for a domestic violence restraining order if they were abused by the person and they had a close relationship, such as being married, domestic partners, divorced, separated, dating, or otherwise closely involved.

  • Elder or dependent adult abuse restraining order

This type of order is reserved for either an elderly or dependent person, which is defined as an individual above the age of 65, or a dependent adult between the ages of 18 and 64 who has disabilities that prevent them from carrying out normal daily activities. This serves to protect these individuals from being abused and usually involves members of their family.

  • Civil harassment restraining order

This type of restraining order is a court order that helps protect individuals from violence, stalking, harassment, or threats of violence.

  • Workplace violence restraining order

California law allows the courts to make orders to protect an employee from suffering from unlawful violence or credible threats of violence in the workplace, and these types of restraining orders serve to put those protections in place.

In California, if a permanent restraining order is issued, the abuser would be forced to relinquish any guns they might have to law enforcement or a state-recognized gun dealer. This is an added safety measure meant to protect the individuals who seek help for abuse. However, if the restraining order remains temporary and never progresses into the permanent category, then the record would only be visible for law enforcement officers to see. There are times when this is not the case, and restraining orders that should have been expunged appear on public record. In cases like these, our criminal defense abilities will allow us to present your case in a positive light in order to work towards the best possible outcome. 

To learn more about criminal records and how a criminal defense attorney can provide legal support, call The Law Office of Brian C. Andritch at (559) 484-2112 or contact us online.

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