San Diego Domestic Violence Restraining Order Lawyer
San Diego Domestic Violence Lawyer
A Restraining Order can protect you and your children from ongoing violence, threats and harassment. Timing is everything when it comes to domestic violence to ensure the safety of your family. Whether you need a San Diego domestic violence lawyer regarding a domestic violence restraining order (or a civil harassment restraining order), speaking to a family law expert like Kevin Lemieux early in the process will help determine the best path forward as you navigate the California family courts.
What is Considered Domestic Violence in the State of California?
Restraining orders are court orders, enforced by the police, to protect victims of domestic violence, and prevent abuse, threats and harassment. “Abuse” is not limited to actual infliction of physical injury—but includes:
- Destruction of property
- Harassing phone calls or texts
- Impersonating someone else
- Causing fear of harm or injury
- Child abuse or endangerment
This can include physical, emotional or psychological harm that can have lasting negative effects for the person suffering the abuse.
Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO)
A restraining order between family members is called a Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO).
These cases are heard in the family court—in all branches of the San Diego Superior Court. Violation of a DVRO results in the abuser’s arrest and can be defined as a dispute between any family member – husband and wife, parents and children, grandparents, couples living together or that are in a relationship.
If you have children with your abuser, you can get custody and visitation orders as part of your restraining order. You can also include the children as protected parties on the order. You can also get a “kick out order” which requires your abuser to leave the family home.
San Diego domestic violence lawyer Kevin Lemieux has litigated hundreds of domestic violence cases and has the experience needed to navigate the California family law court system.
Civil Harassment Restraining Order (CHRO)
A Civil Harassment Restraining Order is different from a Domestic Violence Restraining Order as it protects someone who is being threatened, harassed or abused by someone outside of their immediate family. This would be a stranger, neighbor, or other family members like aunts, uncles or cousins.
It’s important to speak with a San Diego Civil Harassment Restraining Order Lawyer like Kevin Lemieux to discuss your case and navigate the California court system, as he has done hundreds of times before.
How Long do Domestic Violence or Civil Harassment Restraining Orders Last?
This can vary and can range from a few days to multiple years. Each order is unique and determined by the issues and claims presented in the case and the type of order that is deemed appropriate will help dictate the length.
- An Emergency Protective Order is immediate if someone is deemed to be in immediate danger
- A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) lasts for a few weeks and is used to protect someone under “emotional distress” until the case can go to trial
- Finally, a Permanent Restraining Order (RO), or Order After Hearing is issued by a judge after the hearing if the victim needs ongoing protection from the accused
What is a Typical Court Procedure for Domestic Violence Restraining Orders in San Diego?
The court procedure for domestic violence restraining orders is outlined below:
- You fill out the proper court forms and include a sworn declaration of the facts. (Request for DVRO Packet)
- You file that packet and it will be brought to a family law judge that same day, who will decide if your DVRO will be granted temporarily
- If the judge grants you a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), there will be a court date set (roughly 21 days out) but the TRO goes into effect as soon as the judge signs the order and the abuser is served
- Now you must get the abuser served. The San Diego County Sheriff can assist and serve the abuser for free. You can go to their office in the courthouse once the judge signs your TRO, or anyone over the age of 18, who is not a party to the lawsuit can serve the abuser
- Once the Sheriff serves the abuser, he/she must follow the court order, or be subject to arrest. If there is a “kick out” order the sheriff will usually ensure that he/she leaves the family home
- FIREARMS—once the abuser is served, he/she may not legally possess any firearms or ammunition. These items can be turned over to the sheriff or arrangements made at a licensed gun store
- COURT—about 3 weeks later, you will have your court date. The judge will hear the abuser’s side of the story and hear from you as well. The judge will decide if the TRO will be dismissed, or extended for up to 5 years.
- Special Note—you must be ready to proceed with a trial on this date. The abuser can show up and request a trial. If the court has calendar space, it will happen right there. The judge may also give you a new trial date if the calendar is too busy that day.
- Also, the abuser has an automatic right to a continuance on this day. You do NOT have a right to continuance—so you must be ready to present your case. All normal rules of evidence and procedure apply in a TRO trial
Trial is when a lawyer is most valuable to your case since the rules of evidence and court procedures can be complex in the California family law courts. This is where you can leverage San Diego restraining order lawyer Kevin Lemieux’s 17 years of trial experience to litigate the case on your behalf.
Call the Law Office of Kevin Lemieux today for a free consultation to speak with a qualified San Diego domestic violence restraining order lawyer.
If you are a parent or family member that has found yourself engaged in a juvenile dependency case, we at the Law Office of Kevin Lemieux know this can be a frightening place, especially if you do not understand how the system works. Child Welfare Services may be trying to remove your child from your custody, and you need an experienced juvenile dependency lawyer in San Diego to obtain custody of your child.
Navigating the San Diego Juvenile Dependency System
Juvenile Dependency cases in San Diego or heard in Juvenile Court, which is a branch of the Superior Court of the State of California. In San Diego, there is a separate Juvenile Courthouse in Kearny Mesa, and individual courtrooms in East County (El Cajon) and North County (Vista) that hear Juvenile Dependency matters.
Dependency Court hears cases where there is an accusation of child abuse or neglect. If your child has been removed by a San Diego County social worker from Child Welfare Services (CWS), formerly known as Child Protective Services (CPS), then you will have a dependency case in one of these courtrooms. Also, if a social worker wants to remove your child, but requires the court’s permission, you will also have a case in Dependency Court.
The stated purpose of CWS is the protection of children. But like all government bureaucracies, the system is far from perfect. It is essential that you obtain expert legal advice and representation from a San Diego Juvenile Dependency lawyer if you find yourself in Dependency Court.
San Diego Juvenile Dependency Lawyers for Parents
Public Juvenile Dependency Lawyers in San Diego – these are attorneys appointed by the court to represent you. Most of these attorneys are excellent, professional lawyers who can assist you through your case. They are not free, however, you will be sent a bill from the County of San Diego for their services. Another disadvantage is that these lawyers are often underpaid and overworked, through no fault of their own.
Private Juvenile Dependency Lawyers in San Diego – these are attorneys who you hire privately to represent you in court. There are advantages to hiring a private lawyer, including time. Your private attorney will usually have more time to spend with you , and on your case. This is because you are paying them! Also, private lawyers control their own caseloads, so if they don’t have the time to spend, they shouldn’t take your case.
A few things to look for when hiring a private juvenile dependency lawyer in San Diego:
- Is the lawyer a Certified Specialist in Child Welfare Law? These lawyers have the letters CWLS after their name and this indicates that they are Child Welfare Law Specialists, like Kevin Lemieux, who has taken and passed a speciality exam and certified by the California State Bar as an expert in the field. This type of qualification is unparalleled when it comes to experience in Dependency Court.
- Is the lawyer certified to practice in dependency court at all? This is a separate certification, unrelated to the CWLS above, that indicates the Juvenile Presiding Judge has determined that the lawyer is competent in Dependency Law. Juvenile court is very different from adult criminal court and family court. The basic rules of evidence are different in Juvenile Court, and the court procedure is completely different as well. Managing attorney Kevin Lemieux has significant juvenile court experience, and this can make a tremendous difference in your case.
- Juvenile Dependency cases have a much higher trial rate than criminal defense, family, or civil cases. These cases simply don’t settle as often. It is essential that you find a lawyer, like Kevin Lemieux, with vast trial experience.
Juvenile Dependency Lawyers for Children
All attorneys representing children in Dependency Court must be public attorneys appointed by the court, pursuant to state law. You are not allowed to hire a private attorney for your child.
Juvenile Court Terminology
Child Welfare Services (CWS) is part of the Health and Human Services Agency. So in San Diego, when you hear the judge or court personnel refer to “The Agency” they are talking about the social worker and her organization.
- Petition – this is the blue sheet that you are served with at your first court hearing. It contains the legal allegations of abuse or neglect.
- Minor’s Counsel – this is the lawyer appointed to represent the child.
- CASA – this stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate. This is an adult who is appointed to help the child, to be a friend or mentor, and report to the court on the child’s behalf. This person is not a lawyer.
- Case Plan – these are the steps the court will order a parent to take in order to reunify with a removed child. This plan is drafted by the social worker and typically includes various “services.”
- Services – These are the requirements in the case plan and typically include things like individual therapy, group therapy, drug treatment, psychological evaluation, and parenting courses
- Placement – this is where the child lives. Placement could be with a parent throughout the case, but that is rare in San Diego. Most Juvenile Dependency cases in San Diego begin with a foster care placement or relative placement.
- Foster Care or Foster Parent – This is a stranger who is specially licensed to care for children who are removed from their parents. If your child is placed in foster care, you do not get to know this person’s address. Some foster parents are hoping to adopt a child who does not reunify with their parents, and some foster parents are temporary placements only.
- Adoption – Adoption is legally changing a child’s parents. This is what typically happens when a parent fails to reunify with their children in a Dependency Case. This is the worst possible outcome for a parent, as all parent rights are terminated prior to adoption.
- Guardianship – Guardianship is an alternative to adoption in failed dependency cases. It is only allowed in certain circumstances, like when a child over the age of 12 objects to being adopted, or a relative with whom the child is placed refuses to adopt. The law provides that adoption is preferred over guardianship.
A Typical Life-Cycle of a Juvenile Dependency Case in San Diego
Here is a typical life-cycle of a San Diego Juvenile Dependency Case.
Managing Attorney Kevin Lemieux, with 17 years of trial experience, has represented hundreds of individuals and families, and received multiple certifications and awards. Mr. Lemieux is also a trial skills instructor at the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, where he teaches and mentors other lawyers.
Call the Law Office of Kevin Lemieux today for a free consultation to speak with a qualified San Diego juvenile dependency lawyer.