Friday, December 9, 2016

Defending Against False Accusations in a Restraining Order

If you've been served with a restraining order, there's a good chance that the petition is full of lies. They always are. There's also a good chance that you're irate. That's understandable. I would be, too.

Being angry won't fix your problem, though. We have work to do, and that work must be done calmly, coolly, objectively and efficiently.

Of course, no simple, "one-size-fits-all" strategy is appropriate or effective in every restraining order case. It's always a good starting point to consult with a qualified local attorney. Part of being "calm, cool, objective and efficient" is understanding the law, analyzing the facts, and explaining concisely how those facts fit within the law to make your case. That's your attorney's job.

The petition against you probably contains a lot of accusations. Some of those accusations, if proven, could form the basis for a restraining order. These are things like violence, threats, and harassment. Your response should focus on denying, justifying or excusing those claims.

The petition might also include claims that would NOT form the basis for a restraining order. They're not relevant to the judge, even if they paint you in a negative light ("Respondent cheated on me with my sister, he has a bunch of DUIs, and he was emotionally controlling during our relationship", etc.). Do not waste your effort and the court's time by fixating on these types of claims. If the petitioner wants to waste his or her precious time by making irrelevant arguments, let them. Remember, though, the judge is not interested in determining whether or not you cheated during the relationship, who is responsible for your breakup, or whether or not you're a good guy. Those things are not grounds for a restraining order.

This is where a lot of litigants get off track. They get so emotional about defending their reputation or their pride that they lose sight of the actual issue that the court is trying to decide -- whether or not violence, threats or harassment has occurred. They focus too much time and effort in arguing over points that will not affect the judge's decision. I understand the impulse to do so, but you must resist that impulse.

The first step in preparing your defense, then, must be to divide the accusations into two categories: 1) accusations that could (potentially) form the basis for a restraining order if they are proven, and 2) accusations that are irrelevant, even if they sound embarrassing or salacious.

Once we determine which of the accusations could potentially form the basis for a restraining order (claims of violence, threats or harassment), then we can start forming a strategy to refute those accusations.

The most effective way to disprove false accusations is to drill down on each of them methodically and individually. Separate each false allegation and beat it to death with reliable, admissible evidence. Once you have effectively disproved one allegation, then you can move on to attack the next. Stay organized and focused in presenting your case as concisely as possible, without jumping from one point to another. For example, if you're accused of making repeated, harassing phone calls, bring a copy of your call log to prove that the calls didn't come from you. If you're accused of stalking someone on a particular occasion, bring an alibi witness to prove that you weren't in the area.

If you or a loved one has questions about restraining orders in Southern California, call us for a free attorney consultation.  (714) 449-3335.  Ask for John.

Thanks for reading.

Orange County Restraining Order Lawyer