Criminal Protective Order

California utilizes temporary restraining orders or TRO’s in different criminal cases, ranging from domestic violence situations to stalking. A TRO is often referred to as a protective order because they are issued to protect someone from the individual named in the order. A criminal protective order is similar, however, knowing the difference is essential when protecting your rights. An attorney usually presents this type of order to a Superior Court Judge for signature approval. The protective order can be approved without the person named in the order even being aware of it. 

If you were named in a criminal protective order, gaining a critical understanding of how California defines it should help you figure out your next steps.

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What is a Criminal Protective Order?

Criminal Protective Orders are also referred to as a “no contact” order or CPO. A CPO is a protective order the judge enters to help protect either a victim of a crime or a witness to a crime from any party that might be deemed aggressive. For example, if the defendant in a violent crime has acted in a threatening or intimidating manner towards a witness, a CPO might be issued to protect the witness.

Those who are protected under a CPO are also known as ‘protected persons.’ The district attorney (D.A.) involved in the criminal case is the one who requests a criminal protective order. If the judge agrees there is a legitimate need for it, they will grant the request. The CPO is issued by the judge to protect the victim of aggression. It can also be issued to protect the victim’s immediate family members from the defendant named in the order.

Types of CPOs

  • A “no contact” order;
    • Any contact between the protected person(s), for which the order was placed, and the aggressor that is named in the order is completely prohibited.
  • A “peaceful contact” order;
    • This type of order does allow peaceful contact, and in some cases, limited contact between the two parties – the protected person(s) and the aggressor.

Both these types of CPOs are commonly used in domestic violence cases. The orders can be requested as soon as the first court hearing takes place. It can be granted by the judge if they feel the victim or witness requires protection from the defendant, aggressor, or abuser. A criminal protective order can be issued in any misdemeanor or felony criminal case.

How long can a criminal protective order last?

The district attorney involved in the specific criminal case will request a CPO from the judge. If that judge approves it, the order will take effect immediately. In some cases, it can last for the duration of the criminal case. In other situations, the order can remain in effect for as long as ten years. It all depends on the specific details of the case and the level of protection the victim(s) or witness(es) may need.

Are you the target of a CPO?

Maybe you have not been served with a criminal protective order, but you know you might be the target of one. If you suspect you will be named as the aggressive party in a CPO, contacting a legal defense attorney should be your next step.

Having a CPO on your criminal record will have a lasting negative impact on the rest of your life. A misdemeanor or felony listed in your criminal background will have detrimental effects on your professional plans, employment goals, and housing opportunities. It could also have adverse impacts on your academic goals.

A qualified legal defense attorney will know what the necessary steps are to help mitigate the impact of a CPO or possibly help prevent one from being brought against you.

Were you served a CPO?

If you are ever served with an unexpected CPO, you must act within your best interest. This means you should not violate any part of the protective order. Abide by the protective order, even if you feel as though you were wrongfully targeted for one.

Attempting to reconcile things with the protected people for whom the order was made is not recommended. It is a legal document and if they feel you are violating it, they are within their rights to call law enforcement and have you arrested. This will only make the situation worse. Allow an effective criminal defense lawyer to help you.

What if a criminal protective order is violated?

A violation of a CPO can result in the defendant spending up to one year in county jail. If the defendant was on probation or parole and violates the CPO, they would be guilty of violating the terms of their probation and/or parole. If this is the case, the penalties for a CPO violation will be compounded by the penalties for violating their probation or parole.

Penalties for CPO Violation


A potential county jail sentence of one year.

If violence was involved, the defendant could face a felony.

2nd offense involving violence;


As long as three years in county jail or state prison.

Any penalties the defendant faces as a result of violating a CPO will be in addition to any other legal consequences they are already facing. For instance, if the defendant is facing one year in county jail and violates a CPO, they could end up spending another year in county jail.

Protected People

Contact law enforcement as soon as possible if you are a protected person and feel the aggressor, abuser, or defendant is violating the order. The defendant could be facing enhanced consequences if they knowingly violate the temporary restraining order or criminal protective order.

Related Temporary Protective Orders

There are several types of temporary protective orders and knowing the differences between each one can make it easier to figure out your next steps. Other restraining orders to be aware of include:

  • Civil Harassment Restraining Orders (CHO)
  • Domestic Violence Restraining Orders (DVRO)
  • Emergency Protective Orders

Is a criminal protective order the same as a restraining order?

A CPO differs from a restraining order because it is requested by the district attorney involved in the criminal case. The judge for that case is the one that grants it. A restraining order can be issued by a civil court, family court, or juvenile court.

The CPO is used to protect a victim or witness from an aggressor. A temporary restraining order or TRO is used to stop the individual named in the order from abusing, harassing, stalking, or threatening someone. The restrained person is who the TRO was issued to and the protected person is who the TRO was issued for. Since both types of orders are referred to as orders of protection or protective order, confusing the two legal terms is quite common.

It is important to remember, if served with any protective or restraining orders, you must abide by and follow the stipulations outlined in the legal court order. A TRO can last for as long as five years whereas a CPO can last for up to ten years.

Penalty for TRO Violation

As long as one year in county jail, and/or

Legal fines

Gun Rights

Anyone who has a criminal protective order or restraining order against them might lose their right to possess, own, acquire, or purchase a firearm. It all depends on the details of the case and the type of order issued against them.

Let Us Help

Are you located in San Diego, Orange County, or Los Angeles and need a criminal defense attorney? If you or someone you care about is facing a criminal protective order or any of the aforementioned related orders, contact the Law Offices of Anna R. Yum. As a top-rated legal defense lawyer, she understands what is needed to ensure your rights are being protected.

Don’t let frustration or anger drive you to violate any protective orders or restraining orders. Let us help you get the best possible outcome. To schedule a no-obligation consultation call us at 619-233-4433. We welcome all inquiries.