Los Angeles prosecutors use California Penal Code Section 273.6: Violating a Restraining, Protective, or Stay Away Order to charge individuals who ignore protective orders. Ignoring lawful restraining orders of any kind can result in criminal charges.
All types of protective or stay away orders issued by the court must be obeyed, including restraining orders for:
- Workplace violence
- Civil harassment
- Domestic violence
- Elder abuse
The Simmrin Law Group can help you understand the legal definition of PC 273.6. Our team of legal professionals may be able to help if you are facing charges for violating a restraining, protective, or stay away order.
Breaking Down California PC 273.6
PC 273.6 can appear complicated to understand at first glance. This law is used to prosecute anyone who violates a protective order. The court often uses different terms to refer to protective orders, including restraining orders and stay away orders.
There are multiple elements that a prosecutor must be able to establish in order to convict a defendant under California Penal Code 273.6. The following conditions must be proved for a defendant to be found guilty of violating this section of the penal code:
- That at the time of the alleged violation, there existed a lawfully issued written protective order stating that the defendant must stay away from a certain person or avoid a specific action
- That the defendant was aware of the existence of this document
- That the defendant had the ability to comply with the protective order
- That the defendant willfully violated the order
Charges for violating a restraining, protective, or stay away order can apply whether the court order is temporary or permanent. Emergency protective orders must also be obeyed.
Examples of Possible California Penal Code Section 273.6 Violations
Violating a restraining order can be tricky for a variety of reasons. Check out the following examples to get a better idea of what actions constitute a violation.
After his girlfriend leaves him, a man keeps showing up at her work. She has asked him to stop, but he persists. She files a restraining order against him for harassment. The court sets a date for the case to be heard and, in the meantime, grants a temporary restraining order to the woman. The next day he shows up at her work again.
Even though she had been granted the temporary restraining order, the man has not yet violated the order because the woman has not yet served him with the papers. If he gets served while he is there and returns the next day, however, then he would be in violation and subject to prosecution under Penal Code Section 273.6
A couple split up after the husband discovers that his wife has been taking drugs and abusing their children. The court grants sole custody to the father, along with a protective order against the mother barring her from making contact with the children.
Several months later, the father reaches out to the mother after hearing that she has gotten clean and is getting her life back on track. The kids miss their mother, so he invites her to have lunch with them. Technically, if she accepts the offer and meets them for lunch before the protective order has been rescinded, she will be in violation of PC 273.6.
Charges Related to PC Section 273.6 in Los Angeles
The court generally orders restraining or protective orders after initial acts of violence. An individual may be subjected to a stay away order after facing charges related to:
- California Penal Code Section 273.5(a): Corporal Injury to Spouse
- California Penal Code Section 273(d): Child Abuse / Inflicting Physical Punishment On a Child
- California Penal Code Section 273(a): Child Endangerment
Any form of domestic violence may result in a restraining order. Convictions for domestic battery commonly allow courts to hand down incredibly harsh protective orders that can make it difficult for people to go about their daily life.
Defenses Against Penal Code Section 273.6 Violations
There are a number of possible defenses that can be used when facing charges under PC 273.6. A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer may be able to build a defense if:
- You violated a restraining order accidentally
- You did not actually violate the order
- The restraining order was not legally issued
You Violated a Restraining Order Accidentally
PC 273.6 should only be used to prosecute intentional violations of restraining, protective, or stay away orders. A lawyer could be able to prove that a breach of the order was the result of an accident.
You Did Not Actually Violate the Order
In some cases, an individual will lie about someone else violating a restraining order. Proving that you were falsely accused of disobeying a protective order can be difficult without professional help.
The Restraining Order Was Not Legally Issued
Judges must order protective, restraining, or stay away orders legally for them to be considered valid. Sometimes this legal action is not carried out properly.
Repercussions for Violating a Restraining, Protective, or Stay Away Order
There are many serious legal consequences if an individual is convicted of violating a restraining, protective, or stay away order. The court may prosecute violations of PC 273.6 as a misdemeanor or a felony.
A violation of PC 273.6 may be charged as a felony if an individual violated a restraining order multiple times or if physical injuries resulted from the restraining order violation.
Misdemeanor charges for PC 273.6 may include one year of jail time and fines of up to $1,000. A felony conviction can lead to up to three years in prison and fines of $2,000. The court may also penalize PC 273.6 violations by ordering an individual to pay for counseling or medical services for the victim.
Additionally, individuals convicted under PC 273.6 may have to relinquish their firearms while under the restraining order. Individuals faced with protective orders are generally forbidden from purchasing or otherwise acquiring additional firearms.
Legal Help for Violating a Restraining, Protective, or Stay Away Order
The Simmrin Law Group can provide professional legal advice for individuals facing a charge under California Penal Code Section 273.6: Violating a Restraining, Protective, or Stay Away Order. Make sure that you are ready to meet this charge by giving us a call or completing our online contact form.
We provide a free case evaluation so that you can learn more about PC 273.6. If you’ve been charged, reach out to us to learn more about the legal options that are available in your specific case.