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Restraining Order Violation
PC 273.6(a) Law, Sentence, & Defense

Information on the crime of violation of a restraining order is found at California penal code section 273.6. In short, any intentional and knowing violation of a protective order is a crime (PC 273.6(a) Abbrev.).

Restraining order are oral and written legal commands that are issued by judges and peace officers, which are subject to civil and criminal prosecution for failure to obey.


Restraining orders originate in many legal circumstances, including civil harassment cases, domestic violence cases (DVRO), family law cases (divorce, child support, etc.), emergency protective orders issued by police (EPO), civil lawsuits, criminal protective orders (CPO), and more.


Common orders of restraint include: stay away from another person or persons, pay money, cease harassment, no contact with another person or persons, surrender firearms, deliver property, move out of a residence, stay away from a certain areas, order not to talk about a case, and more.


Jail: PC 273.6(a) is classified as a misdemeanor. If found guilty of violating a restraining order the defendant could face up to one year in jail.

PC 273.6(e): is charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony. If found guilty of felony PC 273.6(e) the defendant could face up to three years in jail. If found guilty of misdemeanor PC 263.6(e), the defendant could face up to a year in the county jail.

Probation Sentence: A probation sentence is period of supervision as opposed to a jail sentence. A probation sentence is allowed in PC 273.6 cases but they are not guaranteed. Whether or not the defendant will receive a probation sentence after a conviction for violating a restraining order depends on many factors, including the defendant's criminal history and the egregiousness of the facts. Some jail sentences may be served alternatively on work release or house arrest whether or not the defendant receives a probation sentence or not.

Conduct Credits: After a conviction for PC 23.7(a), the defendant may be entitled to good conduct credits which will reduce his or her jail or work release sentence by up to fifty percent (50%) (Assuming that the defendant is on his or her good behavior while serving his or her sentence.

CIMT: The crime of restraining order violations is not considered a crime of moral turpitude so long as no injury results from the the violation.

Three Strikes Law: PC 273.6(a) is not a strike offense; however, violating a restraining order with injury can be considered a serious offense and a strike offense under California Three Strikes Sentencing Law.

Note: Special punishments related to PC 273.6 crimes can include payments to battered women's shelter, use of the defendant's community property share to pay restitution to the victim in spousal cases (PC 263.6(i), and orders to pay the reasonable cost of counseling for the victim.

In addition to the penalties listed above, if found guilty of violating a restraining order, the defendant could face any of the following punishments: fines and fees, further orders of restraint, denial of entry into the US military, immigration and professional licensing consequences, restitution, loss of the right to own or possess a firearm, and more.


Common defenses to a charge of PC 23.6 include: insufficient evidence, mistake of facts as to the court's orders (ambiguity in the court's orders, especially in no negative contact orders), self-defense, defense of others, statute of limitations, and more.

Note: A defendant must have notice of the orders of restraint in order to be in violation of those orders.

If you have been arrested or charged with violating a restraining order, or PC 273.6, contact out criminal defense lawyers today for a free consultation. Our criminal defense lawyers work closely with family law lawyers in defending defendant accused of violating a restraining order. Our offices are open everyday of the week to assist you. Call today!



Quick Legal Reference​

Crime: Restraining Order Violation

Code: PC 273.6(a) (CalCrim No. 2701 & 2703)

Wobbler: No. PC 273.6(a) is not a wobbler. PC 273.6(a) is charged as a misdemeanor.​


Incarceration: ​PC 273.6(a) jail sentence up to 1 year.

Probation: Probation may be available in PC 273.6(a) cases (assuming other crimes or enhancements that bar a probation sentence are not present). Whether or not a probation sentence is offered by the District Attorney, or granted by the court, depends on several factors, including the defendant's criminal history and the facts of the case.​​

Work Release or House Arrest: In some cases, a probation sentence can include actual in-custody county jail, house arrest (electronic monitoring), or work release (or some combination of these penalties); however, most in-custody jail sentence orders that are required as a terms of probation are much shorter than the maximum jail sentence.

Strike: PC 273.6(a) is not a strike offense listed in California's Three Strikes law.

Credits: 50% good conduct credits available.

CIMT: PC 273.6(a) [without injury] is not a crime involving moral turpitude.


Firearms: PC 273.6(a) convictions prohibit the defendant from owning or possessing a firearm for 10 years. 

Bail: $25,000 (San Bernardino County)

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