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Does a Restraining Order Go on Your Record in California?

By Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP | Mar 31, 2023

Restraining orders are court orders designed to protect individuals from harassment, threats, violence, or other forms of abuse. In California, the laws and procedures surrounding restraining orders are constantly evolving, making it essential for people to stay informed. One of the most pressing concerns for those involved in a restraining order case is whether the order will go on their record. By exploring how restraining orders affect one’s record in California in 2024, individuals can better understand their rights and ensure they protect themselves.

Types of Restraining Orders in California

Before diving into how a restraining order affects your record, it’s important to understand the different types of restraining orders in California. They include:

  • Domestic violence restraining order. Issued to protect individuals from abuse by a close relation, such as a spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, or someone they have a child with.
  • Civil harassment restraining order. Aimed at preventing harassment, threats, or violence from non-relatives or non-intimate partners.
  • Elder or dependent adult abuse restraining order. Issued to protect elderly individuals (65+ years) or dependent adults (18-64 years) with specific disabilities from abuse.
  • Workplace violence restraining order. Provided to protect an employee from threats or violence at the workplace.
  • Gun violence restraining order. Allows law enforcement or family members to petition the court to temporarily remove firearms from an individual who poses a significant risk to themselves or others.

Do Restraining Orders Go on Your Record in California?

The short answer is yes. Restraining orders in California do go on your record. However, the extent to which a restraining order affects your record depends on several factors, including the type of restraining order, the specifics of the case, and whether you violate the order.

When a restraining order is issued, the information is entered into the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (CLETS). This system allows law enforcement agencies to access the restraining order information, which can be critical in enforcing the order. It’s important to note that CLETS is not a public record, so the general public cannot access this information.

Restraining orders can still have significant implications for your record. A permanent restraining order, which typically lasts for three to five years, can be more impactful on your record than a temporary order. Additionally, if you violate the order, you may face criminal charges, leading to a conviction and a criminal record.

Consequences of Having a Restraining Order on Your Record

Having a restraining order on your record can lead to various consequences, both in the short and long term. Some of the potential consequences include the following:

  • Employment. Employers may conduct background checks during the hiring process, and a restraining order may raise concerns about the applicant’s ability to maintain a safe work environment. In some cases, this may lead to being passed over for a job or promotion.
  • Housing. Landlords often run background checks on potential tenants, and a restraining order on your record may cause them to deny your rental application. Additionally, certain restraining orders may prevent you from living close to the protected person, limiting your housing options.
  • Professional licenses. Some professional licenses or certifications may require a background check, and a restraining order on your record may negatively impact your ability to obtain or maintain such licenses.
  • Immigration. Non-citizen immigrants may face problems with applying for a U.S. visa or green card if they have a restraining order on their record.

Consulting with an Orange County domestic violence lawyer can help you determine the impact a restraining order may have on your future.


Q: Does a restraining order show up on a background check in California?

A: In California, a restraining order might appear on a background check, depending on the type of check being conducted. For instance, a routine check might not reveal this information, but a more thorough investigation, such as for security clearance or certain job positions, could potentially uncover a restraining order or domestic violence charge. It is important to note that different employers and organizations have varying access levels to background information.

Q: Does a Restraining Order Result in a Criminal Record?

A: A restraining order itself does not lead to a criminal record. However, if the individual subject to the order violates its terms, they may face criminal charges, resulting in a criminal record. Restraining orders are civil in nature and are designed to protect individuals from harassment, abuse, or threats rather than to punish the person against whom the order is issued.

Q: How Long Does a Temporary Restraining Order Stay on Your Record in California?

A: In California, a temporary restraining order typically lasts for up to 25 days or until a court hearing takes place, whichever occurs first. If a permanent restraining order is not granted, the temporary order will be removed from your record. However, even if the interim order is no longer active, it may still be accessible in certain situations, such as through more comprehensive background checks or court records.

Q: Can a Restraining Order Be Expunged in California?

A: In California, expunging a restraining order from your record is generally impossible. The order will remain on your record, even if it has expired or been terminated. However, if the order was granted based on false allegations or if there is new evidence that might affect the court’s decision, you can petition the court to reconsider the ruling. If successful, this could result in the removal of the restraining order from your record.

Q: Do Restraining Orders Carry Criminal Penalties?

A: Generally speaking, a restraining order does not carry criminal penalties. Violation of the order can, however, result in criminal charges and associated penalties. Depending on the type of violation and the jurisdiction, a restraining order violation may be classified as a misdemeanor or felony. If convicted, the individual may face the consequences such as jail time, fines, and probation. In some cases, they may also have to attend classes or counseling. Depending on the type of crime, they may also be required to register as a sex offender.

Contact Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP Family Law Attorneys Today

If you or a loved one has been served with a restraining order, it is vital to understand the full implications of this action and to explore all possible options for defending your rights. At Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, our experienced family law attorneys are dedicated to helping you understand the legal process and to fighting for a win in your case. To learn more about restraining orders and how we can help, contact us today.

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