5 Steps to Fighting a Restraining Order in California

Being served with an unwarranted restraining order can be an incredibly frustrating experience. However, it is important that you keep calm, know your legal rights, and consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to determine the best course of action. The first thing to know is that there are 5 different types of restraining orders in California:

  • Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
  • Civil Harassment Restraining Orders
  • Elder or Dependent Adult Restraining Orders
  • Workplace Violence Restraining Orders
  • Gun Violence Restraining Orders

Each type of restraining order operates a bit differently, but all restraining orders are issued by a judge and order the restrained party to refrain from partaking in certain actions. Restraining orders can include personal conduct orders (requiring the restrained person to stop doing specific acts), stay-away orders (requiring the restrained person to stay a certain distance away from specific people or places), and residence exclusion orders (requiring the restrained person to move out of the home where the protected person is living).

When requesting a restraining order, the party seeking protection must file a petition with the court. A judge will review the petition that same day and will issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) that will remain in effect until a hearing is conducted. Once the TRO has been served to the restrained party, they will be notified of the injunction and the date that their court hearing has been scheduled for. If you have been served with a TRO in California, follow the steps outlined below if you feel that the restraining order issued against you is unwarranted.


Step 1: Depending on the circumstances, a restraining order may be served either by mail, in person, or in court. The first thing to do is to stay calm. Do not yell, be rude, or display any aggressive behavior. In other words, don’t shoot the messenger.

Step 2: If you would like to oppose your restraining order, consider retaining an attorney. While you are legally allowed to represent yourself in court during a restraining order hearing, having an attorney’s help can be invaluable during this stressful time. Too often, a person representing themselves pro per, end up doing more harm to themselves than good because they don’t understand the legal complexities of a restraining order hearing.

Step 3: While you wait for your day in court, make sure that you completely abide by the restraints outlined in your temporary restraining order. This is very important and the ordered restraints should not be taken lightly.

Step 4: The next step is to file a response to your restraining order in a timely manner. It is important that your response form is filed with the court before your scheduled hearing. Which form you need to file depends on which type of restraining order that you are responding to, but each response form can be found on the Judicial Branch of California’s website.

Step 5: When you go to your restraining order hearing be sure to bring your restraining order, a copy of the response that you previously filed with the court, and any other documents or photos that you plan to use to support your case. Make sure to arrive to your hearing on time, wear conservative clothing that is court appropriate, be polite, and make your arguments in a calm manner when instructed to do so.

If you have been served with a restraining order in California, the best thing that you could do for your case is to consult with an attorney. Kevin Heaney is an experienced criminal defense lawyer out of San Rafael, California who would be happy to discuss your legal options with you. Contact Law Offices of Kevin Heaney today at (415) 302-9609 to request a consultation.