An unfortunate effect of COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders is the increased risk of domestic violence among family units. This can obviously be a scary situation for victims; doubly so if you have children you are worried about. The good news is there are relatively simple and efficient ways to petition for a restraining order against a family or household member. This blog will go over the tools available for domestic violence in California, as well as explore the possible effects on someone’s immigration status.
How is Domestic Violence Defined?
Before we jump into restraining and protective orders, it is worthwhile to go over California’s definition of domestic violence. According to the state penal code, domestic violence is “abuse” committed against an intimate partner. An intimate partner, generally, is a current or former spouse, romantic partner, registered domestic partner, cohabitant, fiancé(e), or anyone with whom the abuser has had a child. The state Family Code adds those who are related to the abuser by blood or marriage in the second degree as victims of domestic violence. Perhaps most importantly, it recognizes that the abuser’s child can be a victim of domestic violence.
What Types of Restraining Orders Are Available for Victims of Domestic Violence?
Upon an arrest for domestic violence, a law enforcement official may apply for an emergency protective order that restricts the freedom of the abuser. In non-criminal matters, the victim of domestic violence may apply for a temporary restraining order, which lasts for 20-25 days. This is granted if the judge in family court believes you or another family member is in immediate danger.
Before the temporary restraining order expires, there will be a hearing in family court between the abuser and victim. Both sides will present evidence, and the judge will decide whether or not to issue a permanent restraining order. This can last for up to five years and place numerous restrictions on the abuser, including requiring the abuser to stay a certain distance from the victim or the victim’s residence. If the abuser and victim live together, a condition of the restraining order could be that the abuser must move out.
Effects of a Restraining Order on Immigration Status
Anyone who has dealt with the U.S. immigration system knows all too well that any deviation from perfect behavior by a non-citizen can have a negative impact on his or her immigration status. The most severe consequences a domestic violence conviction (or even charge) can have for a non-citizen is if the underlying crime is a felony, aggravated felony, or one involving moral turpitude. These often mean that a non-citizen can be removed from the U.S. altogether or is ineligible for a green card or adjustment of status from illegal to legal.
You might feel torn, for many reasons, on whether to pursue a restraining order for your spouse. There are typically serious, far-reaching consequences for being the subject of a restraining order, but remember: the safety of you and your kids come first.
During this difficult time, you deserve to have a compassionate and empathetic legal team by your side. Anthoor Law Group always puts our clients first and works tirelessly to resolve family law matters. We would be honored to represent you; reach out to discuss your options with our team today.
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