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What Proof Do You Need for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order in California

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Recently updated on April 9th, 2024 at 12:15 am



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When applying for restraining orders, the petitioner must attach all supporting material such as any police reports, pictures taken , screenshots of text messages, and medical bills to show that the definition of domestic violence was met.

These are submitted as part of the paper work called the petition, and then later at the court hearing.

Courts in California apply the “preponderance of the evidence” standard to DVROs when deciding whether to grant or not the restraining order.  "Preponderance of the evidence" means that the evidence shows that the abuse likely happened rather than not.  This is a lower standard the one used for criminal cases.

Which type of restraining order fits your situation

It's important to understand the technical meaning of domestic violence and the laws governing the Domestic Violence Restraining Order in California in order to determine what proof is needed

Domestic violence can commonly refer to any physical, sexual or emotional abuse within a household or romantic partners. However, there is a legal definition in every state within US, and its important to know that to determine what is domestic violence and what is not.


Comparison with Criminal Case

If you're a victims of domestic violence, then you can file the following legal cases:

  • Criminal Case: In a criminal case, the burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt, the highest burden of proof.
  • Domestic Violence Restraining Order : This is considered a family law case, and the victim has to give some evidence and generally the burden is low and the victim must establish “reasonable proof of a past act or acts of abuse.” Cal. Family Code § 6300.For Domestic Violence Restraining Order, you just need evidence to support that abuse occurred which is defined as bodily injury or fear that you will get bodily injury.The legal language is in California Penal Code 13700: "intentionally or recklessly causing or attempting to cause bodily injury, or placing another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to himself or herself, or another."


The court considers accusations of abuse leniently, and favors on issuing orders as long as there is some evidence. The fallowing are considered as evidence of domestic violence

Evidence Type 1: Pending Criminal Case

Judges are also more likely to issue an order if there is an ongoing criminal case, therefore it's important to call such cases out when seeking a temporary restraining order.

When a judge sees that there's a criminal case happening, they might think it means the police or the district attorney are pretty sure they can prove the crime happened.

Examples of evidence are:

Evidence Type 2: Photos of violence, injuries, damage

These are the most common types of evidence submitted. These can be photos of victim's injuries inflicted by the abuser. It is helpful to add photos next to the related incident description to help create a complete picture for the judge.

Evidence Type 3: Print outs of messages, emails or transcripts of voicemail

You can take screenshots of text messages and attach them. Similarly you can print emails and attach them as pictures or PDF files. While in most cases you cannot submit digital files such as

Evidence Type 4: 911 Calls

Rather than just saying you called 911 or any specific hotline, you can make your case stronger by listing the following items

  • The number dialed in case of the domestic hotline
  • The date and time (or approximate date and time) when the call was made
  • Who made the call
  • What was reported on the call
  • Any specific details of the person who answer the 911 call e.g. male/female voice

Evidence Type 5:  Medical Records

.You can attach documentation of previous medical emergencies or injuries that resulted from the actions of the abuser. These could be hospital visit records, print outs from your hospital portal (E.g. mychart) showing details of your visit.

Evidence Type 6:  Police reports

You can attach a copy of the police reports filed against abuser for domestic violence.

Evidence Type 7:  Testimony

  • A testimony from a witness. The witness can be anyone such as a family member, neighbor a co-worker or a bystander. The testimony is just an essay written describing the incidents witnessed, with as many specifics as possible.


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