Emergency protective orders in California

What is an emergency protective order (EPO)?

An EPO is a restraining order that the police can get for a victim by telephone seven days a week, 24 hours a day, even if the courthouse is closed. An EPO is only valid for five business days or seven calendar days and is intended to protect the victim for just enough time to go to court to get a longer domestic violence restraining order. There is no cost to get an EPO.

How do I qualify for an EPO in California?

A victim can qualify for an EPO if she is in immediate danger of domestic violence, based on a recent incident or threat of abuse, and if the on-duty judge finds that the EPO is necessary to prevent the occurrence of domestic violence. A victim is most likely to be granted an EPO after calling 911 in an emergency.

Just like with a longer domestic violence restraining order, to get an EPO the abuser must be someone the victim is or used to be married to, living with, dating or engaged to, or someone she has a child with, or is related by blood, marriage or adoption.

What can an EPO do in California?

The EPO can order the abuser not to contact the victim, to stay away from the victim, and to move out of the victim’s home immediately until the order expires or the victim gets a longer domestic violence restraining order. The EPO can also award the victim temporary care and custody of children she and the abuser have together. Violation of an EPO is a crime.

How do I get an EPO in California?

If the victim has been hurt or threatened by the abuser, she can call the police and request an EPO. The police then call an on-duty judge who grants the EPO, and give the victim a copy of the order. The EPO is valid when served on (handed to) the abuser. The police are required to serve the abuser if he can reasonably be found. If not, the victim may have to get someone else to serve the abuser or call the police and have them serve him the next time he shows up.

The victim should keep the EPO with her at all times, and attach a copy of it to her application for a longer restraining order.

Remember: It is very important that the victim go to court to get a longer domestic violence restraining order, since the EPO only lasts for five to seven days.

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