Restraining orders in Santa Monica Court are handled much the same as restraining orders throughout Los Angeles County and throughout California. Santa Monica Court hears all four types of restraining orders:
- Civil harassment restraining orders: this is the catchall type of order and can and should be filed if none of the types of orders are appropriate but relief is needed. Harassment in California is unlawful violence, a credible threat of violence, or a knowing and willful course of conduct that seriously alarms, annoys or harasses another person. The conduct cannot serve a legitimate purpose and must reasonably and actually cause significant emotional distress. A credible threat of violence is a course of conduct (or a knowing and willful statement) that would place a reasonable person in fear for his or her safety (or his or her family’s safety). Further, the threat must not serve any legitimate purpose to be considered a real and credible threat. There is no mandatory amount of time that a course of conduct must adhere to in order to qualify as course of conduct, but must, “evidence a continuity of purpose..”
- Domestic violence restraining orders: these types of orders can only be filed by a person who is in a qualified relationship. Those types of relationships include:(married partners, registered domestic partners, divorced individuals, separated individuals, two people who are currently dating or used to date, two individuals who have a child together, people who live together or previously lived together, a parent, a child, a sibling, a grandparent, a grandchild, or grandparent or grandchild-in-law). Many people file civil harassment orders because they do not know or believe that their relationship with the respondent qualifies the matter to be heard as a domestic violence restraining order request. For example, former cohabitants or siblings may not understand the distinction. That is why it is very important for anyone filing a restraining order request to have the assistance of a qualified attorney who regularly files these types of orders and is well versed in which type of request should be made.
- Workplace violence restraining orders: these types of orders cannot be requested by an employee, they can only be requested by an employer on behalf of an employee. Employees who wish to request a restraining order against another employee or against an employer can elect to file a civil harassment restraining order request. Like domestic violence restraining order requests, workplace violence orders are often filed improperly. Unlike domestic violence restraining order requests, which are often not filed when they should be, workplace violence orders are often filed when they should not be.
- Elder abuse restraining order: people who are permitted to file these kinds of requests must be 65 years old or older, be acting on the behalf of a 65 year old (or older) person, or be (or be acting on behalf of) a person between 18 and 65 with certain disabilities that can prevent the protected person from performing functions that a normally abled individual is capable of performing. This type of order is valuable for petitioner’s because, unlike other types of restraining orders, it can be requested on behalf of a non-employee adult without that adult making the request himself or herself. Therefore, this type of request not only considers elderly petitioners, but also all disabled petitioners as well. While other types of orders can be filed on behalf of others (such as a workplace violence order on behalf of an employee or a civil harassment order on behalf of a child), an elder abuse order does not require a specific relationship between adults, it only has an age barrier and/or a disability barrier to its filing by another party.
In restraining order cases, the person filing for the restraining order, the person seeking protection, is called the petitioner. He or she is petitioning the court (requesting) for a restraining order to be issued against another person. The restrained person in restraining order cases, or the person against whom protection is sought, is called the respondent. He or she responds to the restraining order request made by the petitioner.
The most common type of restraining order in California, the civil harassment restraining order, requires just that: harassment. According to the California law, “[h]arassment is unlawful violence, a credible threat of violence, or a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person that seriously alarms, annoys, or harasses the person, and that serves no legitimate purpose…” For a restraining order to be granted, that course of conduct must cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress (and the course of conduct must actually cause the petitioner to suffer from emotional distress).
Initially, like in all of Los Angeles County and throughout California the fist part of the restraining order process is almost always the request for a temporary restraining order. For this order to be granted, the petitioner usually (if he or she is in fear that telling the respondent about the request could lead to violence) requests the temporary restraining order “ex parte” or without the other side present. Whether or not the temporary restraining order is granted, the permanent restraining order hearing will take place approximately one month later. For this permanent restraining order hearing, the respondent (the person against whom protection is being sought) must be served with the paperwork (regardless of the type of restraining order request being submitted – Santa Monica Court handles all four types).
Whether the hearing proceeds on the first day in question is not always automatic. A respondent, no matter the reason, is always entitled to one continuance of the restraining order hearing. However, if the respondent requests that continuance to which he or she is always entitled, the temporary restraining order (if it was granted in the fist place) will stay in effect until the continued hearing takes place. For some respondents, this condition of the continuance can and does make a difference, whereas others do not care about the temporary orders remaining in effect and only care about the outcome of the hearing on the permanent order.
The hearing regarding the temporary restraining order is often not conducted in open court. It is conducted “ex parte” with the judge usually just reading the petitioner’s request and deciding whether to grant the temporary restraining order based on the information in those documents alone. Because witnesses are not questioned and the respondent is not given a chance to contest the evidence, the temporary restraining order requests are typically granted if the information alleged would be sufficient to have the request granted.
The judge typically, at this stage, doesn’t consider whether or not the respondent has valid defenses to the allegations because he or she has not yet provided any responses. At the hearing on the permanent order, the respondent customarily is permitted to provide testimony or introduce written evidence to dispute the petitioner’s claim. The permanent restraining order hearing operates much more like a traditional court hearing or trial, without a jury.
Defending a Restraining Order in Santa Monica
Defending a restraining order in Santa Monica is similar to defending a restraining order in other parts of Los Angeles County and throughout California. All witnesses must be present at the time of the hearing and the petitioner, the party requesting the restraining order, is permitted to introduce evidence of his or her own while also challenging any evidence the respondent chooses to introduce. Either side may challenge the other’s documentary evidence and may cross examine any witnesses. Like in any other hearing, the party calling the witness may ask additional questions after cross-examination, called re-direct examination. Also like all other types of hearings with evidence, objections to hearsay, lack of foundational evidence, and non-responsive answers may all be made.
Santa Monica Restraining Order Mediation
Mediation in Santa Monica is a process by which some judges will send litigants to in order to attempt to resolve the dispute prior to a restraining order hearing. While some types of restraining orders may not be appropriate for mediation, other types, such as neighbor disputes or matters where no actual violence has occurred, may resolve during negotiations. During mediation, a neutral moderator will listen to each sides’ contentions and attempt to resolve the dispute via a formal agreement between the two sides. Either side may refuse to settle the case and proceed to the full restraining order hearing at any time, where a judge will make a final determination regarding the restraining order request after hearing evidence and / or reviewing documentary evidence that was submitted.
Santa Monica Restraining Order Resources
A Santa Monica Restraining Order is handled at the Santa Monica Courthouse in response to conduct that occurs in the following areas: Del Ray, Marina Del Ray, Culver City, Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, Bel-Air, Beverly Crest, Beverly Hills, Westwood, Santa Monica, Sawtelle, West Los Angeles, Century City, Pico-Robertson, Beverlywood, Cheviot Hills, Rancho Park, Venice, Mar Vista, and Palms. After the closure of the Beverly Hills Courthouse for all functions except traffic infraction arraignments, the Santa Monica Courthouse has been assigned significantly more matters with varying practice areas.
Parking at the Santa Monica Courthouse is available adjacent to the courthouse. The Santa Monica Courthouse, in addition to handling civil harassment orders and domestic violence restraining orders, handles traffic and civil litigation cases.
The Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles’s Santa Monica Office offers help to residents of Santa Monica with civil harassment restraining orders and domestic violence restraining orders. The Legal Aid Foundation operates the Domestic Violence Clinic, as well as a Self-Help Legal Access Center within the Santa Monica Courthouse (Room 121 at the Santa Monica Courthouse). Clients for the Domestic Violence Clinic are seen Mondays through Fridays and are closed on Thursdays, from 8:30 am to 11:00 am. The Clinic also assists clients on a walk-in basis with regard to restraining orders and family law issues.
- Santa Monica Police Department Domestic Crisis Unit (310) 458-8491.
- L.A. Commission on Assaults Against Women (24 hours) (310) 392-8381.
- Sojourn Shelter for Battered Women (24 hours) (310) 264-6644.
The City of Santa Monica is a stand-alone, fully incorporated city within Los Angeles County and borders the Pacific Ocean to the west and the City of Los Angeles (Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, Venice, and Sawtelle are all neighborhoods within the City of Los Angeles) on all other sides.
The City of Santa Monica was incorporated in 1886 with a total land area of over eight square miles. Its total population is approximately 90,000 people. Santa Monica’s violent crime rate is slightly above the rate in Los Angeles County and above the violent crime rate for California.