Another important case has recently been handed down that affects the way restraining orders are issued.  In Avalos v. Perez (2011) 196 CA4th 773, 127 CR3d 106, California’s appellate courts held that a trial court should have renewed a restraining order that was supposed to expire after two years for a full 5 years under the authority of California Family Code §6345(a). Factually, the case involved a woman who had obtained a two-year restraining order against her former boyfriend in 2008.  In 2010 she petitioned the court for a 5-year extension of that order, claiming that the boyfriend now knew where she worked and that she feared he might again contact her.  Her motion to renew the order went unopposed, yet the trial court renewed the order for only two years.  The plaintiff did not object thereto at trial, but appealed afterwards. In its wisdom, California’s court of appeal held that the trial court should have renewed, under the authority of Family Code §6345(a), the restraining order for a full 5 years.  The code mandates that such orders be renewed, on a party’s request, “either for five years or permanently, without a showing of any further abuse since the issuance of the original order.” In the case at hand, although plaintiff did not object at trial to the 2-year extension and ordinarily would have forfeited her right to appeal that issue, the appellate court determined that it had discretion to address the appeal if there was only a question of law involved or the matter involved public interest or policy.  The case was remanded by the appellate court back to the trial court with instruction to extend the order to a date certain in 2015.

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