“There’s No Justice System; There’s Just a System”: A California Paralegal’s Advice on Defending Yourself against a Restraining Order Based on Fraud

Posted on September 29, 2015

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The commentary and advice that follow are from a “paralegal at a top-tier criminal defense firm in Southern California.”

I will go on record saying we have some clients that were slapped with permanent restraining orders and some were also on probation for prior convictions while the restraining order injunction was issued. A number of our clients were arrested and put in jail multiple times by vindictive exes who used the RO in an abusive manner such as asking the restrained person to come over so they could reconcile and then calling the police as soon as the restrained person arrived. Another “protected person” in particular called the restrained person and claimed she was going to commit suicide. When the restrained person (our client) came over, she immediately called the cops, and he got hauled off to jail. We have another client who got locked up for responding to his ex via text message! Those are classic examples of “RO set-ups,” and it happens too often. Evil!

This topic hits close to home, because I too was the victim of a false/frivolous DV restraining order (or at least a failed attempt to get one placed on me) not too long ago. My ex-fiancée used a few e-mails I had written, admittedly in poor taste, of course, as evidence against me. The e-mails, though rather offensive, did not have any indications or inclinations of imminent danger towards my ex. No threats of physical harm towards my ex or her family at all. She even amended the protective order a couple of days after she originally filed it to include her brother, her mother, and the family dog!

I was shocked a temporary restraining order (TRO) was granted but later came to realize the courts tend to grant TROs quite easily with minimal evidence as a “safe measure” in case the petitioner is truly in immediate danger. Fortunately for me, my ex and her bro lacked basic legal knowledge and were not well-prepared for the hearing when the day came. I hired an attorney who specialized in domestic violence/criminal defense, and she was able to discredit/impeach my ex’s bro’s testimony and pretty much shoot down much of what my ex had to say with regard to my being a threat to her and her family. My ex did tell the judge she was fearful of me, and the judge did sympathize with her in that area. Long story short, the petition for a permanent restraining order was denied, and I hope I never see my ex or any members of her family ever again.

I’m sure this site has this info already, but I’d like to reiterate:

  1. When you get served with a temporary restraining order, regardless of how frivolous, OBEY THE TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER. Make no effort in any way, shape, or form to communicate with the petitioner/protected person(s).
  2. If you have firearms, turn them in to a local firearms dealer for storage.
  3. Get an attorney who is reputable and skilled in domestic violence as well as criminal defense.
  4. If the hearing date is less than a week away, have your attorney request a continuance so you can better prepare for the hearing.
  5. Have your attorney file a formal response to the petition before the actual hearing, and make sure it gets served to the court and the petitioner.
  6. You and your attorney must go over your strategy in defending against the petitioner prior to the hearing.

I never lived with my ex nor did I have any history of domestic violence, but I still had to deal with the bullshit that came with a TRO. Even so, I stood my ground and fought the bogus petition.

Innocent people fight when they are wrongly accused rather than submit. Those who blatantly lie and lack reasonable evidence to support the lies will get shot down by competent defense counsel (as well as a confident and competent respondent/defendant).

  1. Maintain your composure at all times, especially during the hearing—dress nice, speak well, and discredit your accuser(s) in a cordial and professional manner, and you will prevail.
  2. If the judge feels the petition for the restraining order was completely unmerited, you can request that the judge order the petitioner to pay your attorney’s fees as well as any other expenses such as reimbursement for firearm storage fees.

The sad thing, though, is nine out of 10 times if the petitioner simply says s/he was truly in fear, the judge will say the TRO did have “some” merit.

Anyhow, my heart truly goes out to those of you falsely restrained and subjected to all the headaches that come along with it. Sometimes the system does truly suck.

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