What should I do if the abuser violates the restraining order?

Call 911 immediately if you believe that you might be in danger.  At the very minimum, you should notify the police.  Remember to cary a copy of your EPO, TRO or permanent restraining order with you at all times.  Show it to the police when reporting the violation.  Restraining orders are valid nationwide.  In California, they are input into California’s Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (CLETS); this means that a record of the order should be retrievable by every law enforcement agency in the state.  Keep a copy of the order with you as an added precaution - even in California.  The law states that the court must provide you with five stamped, certified, endorsed copies at no charge.

What happens to the abuser will depend on the specific situation.  He or she could be arrested and, if found in contempt (a misdemeanor) for violating the court order to stay away from you, could be jailed for up to a year and/or fined $1,000.  Or, he or she might even face a felony charge.  If the abuser take s or conceals a child in violation of the order or physically injures you, he or she could be charged with a felony, which is punishable by a state prison sentence and/or fine.

Don’t be caught off-guard.  Establish a safety plan that includes teaching your children what to do if the batterer shows up.  Alert your children’s daycare provider or school officials, and give them a copy of the restraining order.  Make sure that your home is as secure as possible.  Let your telephone answer machine pick up calls before you do.  Confide in a trusted neighbor, and ask him or her to call police if the abuser comes near your home.

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