A Ventura Restraining Order, including civil harassment restraining orders, domestic violence restraining orders, elder abuse restraining orders, and workplace violence restraining orders are heard at the Ventura Superior Courthouse and are held at 8:30 AM on Mondays, Tuesday, and Wednesdays in Departments 31,32,33,35.
Hearings are also held Wednesdays and Fridays in Department 34. Applications for temporary restraining orders, which are typically handled ex parte (with only one side appearing in court), are handled in Departments 31, 32, 33, and 35.
Ventura County is located to the north of Los Angeles County and has a total population of over 800,000. Major cities in Ventura County include Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, the City of Ventura, and Simi Valley.
Unlike Los Angeles County, Ventura County does not have numerous satellite courthouses. Therefore, all restraining orders that originate in any city in Ventura County are heard at the Ventura Superior Courthouse, located at 800 S Victoria Avenue, Ventura 93009.
All types of California restraining orders can be heard in Ventura. Those four types of orders include:
- Civil harassment orders – there must be actual violence or a credible threat of violence. Harassment, as defined by California law, is actual violence or a credible threat of actual violence or a willful and knowing course of conduct specifically directed at another person that annoys or harasses them. The conduct cannot serve a legitimate person and must actually cause emotional distress. The course of conduct must not serve a real or legitimate purpose and must be a series of actions over time that shows a “continuity of purpose..” It must also place a reasonable person in fear for his or her actual safety (or the safety of his or her family).
- Workplace violence restraining order – this is for an employer to file requesting protection for an employee. An employee who is seeking protection can file a civil harassment restraining order request. Often, employees, because of the name of this type of order, mistakenly believe that they can or should file a workplace violence restraining order request on their own behalf against another employee or employer. However, this type of mistake can have consequences, causing the request to be rejected and forcing the petitioner to begin again. This is why it is always advisable to contact an experienced restraining order attorney prior to proceeding with a request. Workplace violence restraining order requests are also different than other types because a representative for the petitioner appears instead of an actual individual. Often, a corporate officer, an attorney or other employee appears for the corporation or organization (such as a non-profit or a governmental agency).
- Elder abuse restraining order – for individuals 65 years old or older, or for other adults whose physical or mental disabilities prevent him or her from engaging in normal activities or protecting himself or herself. Critically, elder abuse restraining order requests can be filed on behalf of individuals who cannot file for themselves properly. This key provision and allows for protection for individuals without the ability to seek protection on their own. This is the only type of restraining order request that can be filed on behalf of an adult by another adult (as opposed to an entity requesting the order or the order being requested to protect additional individuals other than the petitioner).
- Domestic violence restraining order – for individuals in a qualifying relationship such as “in-laws,” siblings, step-siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, step-grandparents, step-grandchildren, married partners, ex-spouses, domestic partners, former domestic partners, cohabitants, or individuals who are dating or were in a dating relationship.
The Ventura restraining order process is generally the same as in all California courts. The person requesting the restraining order is always called the “petitioner” and the person the petitioner is seeking to restrain is always called the “respondent.” The first step in the restraining order process is for the petitioner to file a request for a temporary restraining order and request a hearing for a permanent restraining order.
The initial restraining order hearing, the one in which the judge will decide whether or not to issue temporary restraining orders during the period between the request and the hearing on the permanent order, is usually done without testimony and by the judge in his or her chambers, reviewing the paperwork. Further, the respondent is usually not made aware of this hearing and the judge typically decides whether to issue the orders based on the petitioner’s allegations alone. The judge may choose to hear from the petitioner and/or listen to evidence: that decision is entirely up to the judge.
After the initial temporary restraining order, whether or not the temporary restraining order is granted, a permanent restraining order hearing is set. Typically, the hearing on the permanent order, which can last up to five years in certain circumstances, is held approximately three weeks after the initial temporary restraining order hearing.
Unlike the temporary restraining order, the permanent restraining order can only be issued after the respondent (the person the petitioner is seeking to restrain) is personally served with the correct paperwork and notice of the hearing by an adult other than the petitioner. At the permanent restraining order hearing each side has an opportunity to present evidence and cross-examine the other side’s witnesses. Either side may introduce exhibits (documents, video, photographs, and other non-live witness testimony) and call their own witnesses to both counter what a different witness has said (impeachment) or to prevent affirmative evidence to support their case.
Restraining Order Appeals in Ventura
After all of the evidence is presented, the judge will issue a ruling, either granting the proposed order without changes, granting the proposed order with changes, or denying the proposed restraining order. Either side can appeal the result of the Ventura restraining order hearing. An appeal of a restraining order in Ventura functions similarly to restraining order appeals in Los Angeles County and throughout California. When filing a restraining order appeal, it is important to note that only legal rulings by the judge can be challenged.
Whether evidence should have been believed is not something that can be appealed. In other words, the weight of the evidence is something, absent egregious decision-making by a judge, that will not typically be overturned. A judge in a restraining order case, and in all evidentiary cases in California, has almost complete discretion to decide who is telling the truth and what evidence to believe (restraining order petitioners and defendants are not entitled to jury trials in Ventura or anywhere in California).
Again, alleging a witness lied during a restraining order hearing is not sufficient grounds for an appeal. The time to present evidence that the witness was being untruthful and the time to make arguments about the witnesses’s testimony is during the hearing, not after. It is the responsibility of the restraining order petitioner to have evidence to refute the testimony of a witness either side contends is not being truthful.
A legitimate reason for appeal, for example, would be if a judge denied a continuance to a respondent who has not previously requested one (all respondents in all restraining order matters in California are entitled to one continuance of their hearing, without having to state a reason). Another possible procedural mistake that can lead to a successful restraining order appeal is one that deals with the issue of service. If service was somehow procedurally defective and / or did not comply with statutory rules, the decision of the judge can be overruled if the appellate court determines the court erred in deciding that service was properly made. The best course of action if you are considering a restraining order appeal in Ventura is to contact an experienced restraining order attorney.
Ventura Restraining Order Resources
Resources for restraining order petitioners who have been victims of domestic violence can access the following resources in Ventura County:
The Coalition for Family Harmony: Domestic Violence Shelter Services is located at 1030 N Ventura Road in Oxnard. The organization can be reached at (805) 656-1111 and provides certified crisis counselors who provide safe housing, help obtaining medical treatment, counseling, and assistance with domestic violence restraining orders. Counselors also accompany victims to court for restraining order hearings.
The Interface Children and Family Services: Safe Haven – Emergency Domestic Violence Shelter is located at 4001 Mission Oaks Boulevard in Camarillo. This organization can be reached at (800) 636-6738 and provides women attempting to escape domestic violence a place to live for up to 30 days. It also provides help in finding permanent housing and emergency food and clothing. Finally, this organization includes a 24-hour hotline.
Interface Children and Family Services: Safe Journey – Transitional Domestic Violence Shelter is also located at 4001 Mission Oaks Boulevard in Camarillo and can also be reached at (800) 636-6738. This organization, however, provides up to 18 months of housing for domestic violence victims and also provides counseling and help with obtaining permanent housing, assistance with a job search and help with childcare.