Victims of crime have the right to obtain a protective order. There are four different types of protective orders that are available to victims of crime and witnesses. Protective orders are given to victims of crime when there is a good cause to have concern for their safety. These orders enable a victim to call the police if a defendant, also known as the restrained party, gets within a certain distance, usually 100 yards, or tries to contact him or her by phone, e-mail, or mail either personally or through another person. If a defendant violates a protective order, he or she may be charged with an additional crime.

Emergency Protective Order (EPO)

An Emergency Protective Order (EPO) is made at the scene by the police officer who telephones a judge to get consent to issue the EPO. This applies to potential domestic violence, stalking, child abuse, child abduction, and elder abuse crimes. If there is a child victim, a parent or guardian may seek the order on their behalf. Upon permission from the court, the police officer will prepare a written order and provide the victim and the suspect with a copy. The officer will also file the order with the court. Once the EPO is in place, law enforcement must take all reasonable steps to enforce this order. EPOs are temporary and only last for 5 business days or 7 calendar days. If a criminal case is filed at the end of the five-day period covered by the EPO, a Criminal Protective Order (CPO) can be sought from the judge who arraigns the defendant. If a criminal case has not been filed, papers can be filed with the court to obtain a Civil Restraining Order.

Criminal Protective Order (CPO)

A criminal court has the power to issue a protective order to protect victims of crime, witnesses, and their immediate family. The court can make this order to prevent a criminal defendant from contacting or intimidating witnesses and victims of crime through e-mail, telephone calls, or other people. The court may also use this power to modify existing protective orders, such as an EPO, issued by the investigating officer. If the defendant is arrested for and charged with a crime involving domestic violence, a special domestic violence prevention order may be issued of a CPO.

Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO)

If a victim of domestic violence needs a protective order because a criminal case has not yet been filed or is not going to be filed, the victim can get a Domestic Violence Restraining Order (RO) through civil court from the Monterey County Self-Help Center. These applications must be filled out in English. Once the application for a DVRO is filed, it will be reviewed by a judge within one to two days.

The DVRO can prohibit abuse, exclude a person from a house or apartment, prevent specific types of behavior, and prohibits the abuser from owning, possessing, or purchasing a firearm. Additionally, the order may make an initial decision about child custody and visitation. It is also important to remember that a victim of domestic violence may have a support person attend all family law and criminal proceedings, including the hearings for a DVRO, where the victim will be in close proximity to the alleged abuser.

Temporary Restraining Orders (TRO)

Protective orders obtained through civil court have two parts. First, the court issues a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). This is done without a court appearance by the defendant, also known as the restrained party. After issuing a TRO, the court will set a date for a hearing typically 3 weeks after you turn in your court papers. At the hearing, both sides can present evidence or information for or against a protective order. 

If the judge grants a restraining order, the person protected by the restraining order will have some additional steps to take, like completing a form the judge to sign. The restrained person must obey all the orders that the judge made. If he or she does not, he or she could go to jail, pay a fine, or face other consequences. The protected party should keep copies of these orders for their records.

Gun Violence Restraining Orders (GVRO)

California’s Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) offers family members, household members, the person’s employer, and law enforcement a tool to temporarily remove firearms, ammunition, and magazines from an individual who is a danger to themselves or others.

A GVRO is a court order that:

  • Prohibits the restrained person from purchasing and/or possessing a gun, ammunition, or magazines.
  • Requires the restrained person to turn in guns, ammunition, and magazines to the police or sell/store them with a licensed gun dealer.

The GVRO does not:

  • Restrain the subject from contact with the other person(s)
  • Order the subject to stay away from any location(s)
  • Order the subject to move out of their home.

Only certain people can ask for a GVRO if they think someone is dangerous and should be restricted from having or buying firearms and ammunition, including:

  • Law enforcement officer or agency
  • The person’s immediate family members, including a spouse, parent, child, grandparent, or any other person who regularly lives with them now or lived with them in the last 6 months.
  • The person’s employer
  • The person’s co-worker who has regular contact with the person and has worked with them for at least a year and has the employer’s permission to ask for this restraining order.
  • An employee or teacher at a school that the person has gone to in the last six months, who has permission from a school administration or staff supervisor.
  • You can ask a law enforcement officer to ask for a gun violence restraining order. If it is an emergency, you can call the police and ask for one right away. If you don’t want to call the police for help, you can ask for this restraining order yourself.

The GVRO Legal Processes are as follows:

  • Step 1 – Request a petition from your local Superior Court or download it from the following website:
  • Step 2 – Complete and submit the petition and other necessary paperwork to the court.
  • Step 3 – The judge will review the petition and may issue a temporary GVRO that will remain in effect until a scheduled hearing. Once a temporary GVRO is issued, you may contact the sheriff in the county where the person you want a restraining order against is located, the process server, or any adult who is not a party to the action to serve the order.
  • Step 4 – Attend the hearing scheduled by the court. The hearing will be scheduled 21 days after the GVRO is issued. At the hearing, the court may grant a GVRO that is in effect for up to one year.


Please visit your local Superior Court website or locations for further information on restraining orders or information on other case types that the Self-Help Center can assist you with.

The Self-Help Center can help you with:

  • Child Support Issues
  • Paternity Issues, including Set Aside Motion
  • Child Custody & Visitation
  • Spousal Support
  • Dissolutions (Divorce)
  • Legal Separation/Annulment
  • Domestic Partnerships
  • Elder Abuse
  • Domestic Violence
  • Civil Harassment
  • Probate Guardianships
  • Unlawful Detainers and Answers (Landlord/Tenant Issues)
  • Referrals to Small Claims Advisors
  • Monterey County Bar Association referrals
  • Referrals to other community resources
  • Small Claims forms
  • Limited Conservatorships

The Self-Help Center cannot help you with:

  • Criminal matters of any type
  • Landlord/Tenant Disputes for Section 8 Housing or other situations
  • Immigration
  • Juvenile Court Matters (Juvenile, dependency-including CPS matters)
  • Traffic
  • Probate matters (such as wills, trusts, and conservatorships)
  • Dismissing Criminal Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
  • Most General Civil Litigation
  • Workers’ Compensation

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