AB 454 increases the protection provided by California’s restraining order law by requiring that the protected party be given prior notice of any hearing to modify or terminate a restraining order. Notice must be provided either by by personal service or, if the protected party is registered with the Safe at Home Program, by service on the Secretary of State. If the protected party cannot be notified prior to the hearing, the court must either deny the motion to modify or terminate the order without prejudice or continue the hearing until the protected party is properly noticed. A protected party may waive his or her right to notice if he or she is physically present in court at the time of the hearing and does not challenge the sufficiency of the notice.
As the CCBA noted in its letter urging Governor Brown to sign the bill, restraining orders are issued specifically to provide protection for some individuals from violence or the threat of violence by others. Because these circumstances involve a heightened potential for physical danger and death, the notice requirements for terminating or reducing the protection provided by these orders early should be heightened as well, to ensure to the extent possible that protected parties receive actual notice. AB 454 would help accomplish this important goal.
AB 454 came out of CCBA Resolution 05-07-2009, which was sponsored by the Women Lawyers of Sacramento. Originally introduced to apply only to protective orders issued under the Family Code, AB 454's provisions were expanded to make the protections applicable to all parties protected by a civil protective order - including family, civil harassment, workplace harassment, postsecondary education harassment, juvenile, and elder and dependent adult abuse protective orders. This provides consistency through the various codes, and is also indicative of the merit the Legislature perceived in the original proposal.
The bill passed both houses of the Legislature without a 'No' vote, and was supported by:
- California Partnership to End Domestic Violence
- Chief Probation Officers of California
- California National Organization for Women (CA NOW)
- Executive Committee of the Family Law Section of the State Bar of California (FLEXCOM)
- California Commission on the Status of Women (CCSW)
- California Probation Parole and Correctional Association (CPPCA)
AB 454 is now Chapter 101, Statutes of 2011, and will take effect January 1, 2012.