California's Domestic Violence Prevention Act

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The DVPA Provides immediate legal protection for victims of domestic abuse

California's Domestic Violence Prevention Act

 California's Domestic Violence Prevention Act (the DVPA) was passed in 1993.  Its objective is to provide immediate legal protection for victims of domestic physical abuse and emotional abuse, in the form of temporary restraining orders and injunctions against the abuser.  Prior to the Act's passage, obtaining such assistance, if it was obtainable at all, was a complicated, lengthy, and expensive process.

As its title indicates, the Act applies to married people and family members living together, people who have had children together, and to people who were or are dating each other.  The definition of abuse in the Act covers a lot of ground: molesting, attacking, striking, stalking, threatening, sexually assaulting, battering, harassing, telephoning, destroying personal property, contacting (either directly or indirectly, by mail or otherwise), coming within a certain distance of, or distrurbing the peace of the other party.

TRO Temporary Restraining Order 
and Obtaining an Injunction 

An injunction is a court order prohibiting a person from doing something.  Injunctions can't be obtained without giving the person (the respondent) notice that the somebody (the petitioner) is asking for one, and having a hearing where both the petitioner and the respondent can present evidence and arguments to a judge. A temporary restraining order (a TRO) is the name for a short term injunction issued to the petitioner without notice to the respondent.  It lasts until there is a noticed hearing.  if the respondent wins, it turns into an injunction.

The guts of TRO's and injunctions issued under the Act are called no contact and stay away orders against the respondent: don't talk to, don't call, don't email, and don't mail the petitioner (either yourself or somebody doing it for you); and don't come near (typically 100 yards) the petitoner or the petitioner's home, workplace, or vehicle.  The orders may apply to children as well as the petitioner, and include staying away from their schools.  When children are involved, the court may also make child custody and child support orders.  If the respondent has firearms, they must be turned over to the Sheriff.  TRO's typically last 15 days, injunctions 3 years.

Filing a petition to obtain a Temporary Restraining Order and Injunction

In keeping with the Act's objective, the legislature included a provision requiring the judges to create mandatory forms for the victim's petition, the perpetrator's response, the TRO's, and the injunctions, as well as do-it- yourself instructions for filling them out and what to do with them.  There is no filing fee for either the petiton or the response.  Attorneys are optional, but improve the odds for a party who hires one.  What the petitioner has to prove to obtain a TRO and injunction under the Act is a long story which we'll take up in another article. 



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