Does a Restraining Order Go on Your Record in California?

If a restraining order is issued to you, it can impact your current and future employment educational opportunities and limit other aspects of your life. How severely a restraining order changes your life will depend on the circumstances surrounding why one is being filed against you and whether you have legal advocacy for your rights. Terms of a restraining order could limit contact to protected persons, which may include your children, and prevent the use of firearms. Restraining orders are part of the civil court, but they could still impact your criminal record.

What Are the Types of Restraining Orders?

Depending on your relationship with the person filing a protective order against you, they could file one of the following:

  • Civil Harassment Restraining Order
  • Domestic Violence Restraining Order
  • Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse
  • Workplace Violence Restraining Order

In cases of civil harassment or domestic violence protective orders, an Emergency Protective Order (EPO) may be filed against you if there is immediate danger to the other party. Civil harassment EPOs are filed in cases of stalking, and domestic violence EPOs are filed for domestic abuse and violence.

Next, a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) may be filed before a hearing. EPOs and TROs need reasonable evidence other than the other party’s claims to be filed, which is the lowest standard for proof. This is because both orders are temporary, with EPOs lasting up to seven days and TROs only lasting a few weeks until trial. It’s also because of the potential for serious danger to the person filing the orders.

This low level of evidence makes it hard to stop a TRO from being filed against you. However, the hearing will determine whether you have a permanent restraining order placed against you, and more evidence is necessary for this. If you fail to show up at the hearing, the court won’t hear your side of events, and a restraining order will almost certainly be filed against you. It’s important to your future that you provide evidence against a permanent restraining order.

How Restraining Orders Can Impact Your Life

A permanent restraining order isn’t actually permanent but may last three to five years. After this time frame, the person may apply for another restraining order against you. A restraining order can negatively impact your life in several ways, including:

  • Requiring you to stay a prescribed distance from the home, workplace, or other designated places that the other party chooses.
  • Harming an ongoing job search as your public record is discoverable in background checks.
  • Requiring you to move out of your home if you share a living space with the person who placed a restraining order against you.
  • Losing your job if your employer deems the restraining order enough cause to fire you.
  • Limiting your contact with the other party and other protected persons, such as their family or the children you have with the other party. Limited contact can also make day-to-day activities hard if you frequent similar places as the other party, as this could be considered a violation of the protective order.
  • Prohibiting you from owning, purchasing, or possessing a firearm over the course of the restraining order. If your job is in the military or you use a firearm for work, you may have to transfer job duties or find new employment.
  • Impact your immigration status negatively if you are not a citizen.

Restraining orders are not criminal charges, and they appear on your civil record, not your criminal record. However, you could also be charged with criminal offenses such as domestic violence or assault in conjunction with a restraining order. Only other criminal charges, violations of a restraining order, or a Criminal Protective Order filed by the district attorney will impact your criminal record.

What Happens If I Violate Restraining Order Terms?

Failing to follow the terms of the restraining orders will result in criminal charges. According to California law, the failure must be on purpose, and you must have known about and had the ability to follow the terms of the order. A violation is usually charged as a misdemeanor. This could result in up to a year of jail time and a fine of up to $1,000.

The violation may become a felony if this is the second offense of a restraining order violation or the violation includes violence. A felony results in incarceration for up to three years and a fine of up to $10,000.


Q: Does a Temporary Restraining Order Remain on Your Record in California?

A: During the time before the hearing, or for 14 days, the TRO will be visible to law enforcement to see. If a permanent restraining order is completed against you after the hearing, your record will include the order. If the restraining order is denied, then it will be expunged from your record. In some cases, this may take too long, and you should discuss expungement with your legal representation.

Q: Are California Restraining Orders Public Records?

A: A permanent restraining order is on your public record and will remain there. Sealing a record or expunging charges is only available for criminal charges, and restraining orders are usually part of civil records. If a temporary restraining order was filed against you, but a permanent order was denied, the record should be expunged. In some cases, it is not expunged quickly, and you should talk with legal counsel before it further affects your life.

Q: Does a Restraining Order Result in a Criminal Record?

A: Protection orders are part of a civil court, meaning they themselves won’t be on your criminal record. However, protection orders may be filed along with domestic violence charges, assault charges, or other criminal charges. These will result in a criminal record. Violating the restraining order placed against you will also result in criminal charges.

Q: Is a Restraining Order a Criminal Charge?

A: A restraining order is not a criminal charge, but it may sometimes go hand-in-hand. Not every action that leads to a civil restraining order will also accompany criminal charges. There is also a form of restraining order called a Criminal Protective Order that is filed by the district attorney for an event that is a serious violent offense or harassment, or a series of offenses.

Legal Help You Can Trust

If you’re expecting a hearing regarding a potential permanent restraining order, it is essential that you contact effective legal counsel. The expert attorneys at Paula D. Kleinman, APLC, can represent you in court and fight against allegations by providing strong evidence and documentation. Contact our firm today.

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