Houman Fakhimi

Celebrity Stalking Accounts for Small Percentage of Arrests

A woman was recently arrested in Los Angeles for violation of a restraining order against Actor Jeff Goldblum.

She had previously been ordered by a judge to remain 100 yards away from the actor until the spring of 2015. Yet, the 50-year-old was spotted within 20 yards of him by security guards, who had surrounded him while at a seminar.

Rancho Cucamonga Criminal Defense Attorney Houman Fakhimi knows that while these are the cases that grab headlines, they make for a small portion of criminal stalking and violation of protection order cases. While it's entirely possible that mental illness may be a factor here, many violations may be technical or due to lack of understanding regarding the exact terms.

Judges take such violations seriously, however, as they aim to prevent domestic violence assaults and homicides. In reality, though, most individuals who violate protection orders aren't intending on harming the other person, and may not even be aware of the violation. It's simply an oversight.

How a judge deals with the transgression will heavily depend on the circumstances surrounding the violation, as well as the strength of the case made by your legal representative.

Before we get into defenses, let's look at what a restraining order actually is. Generally speaking, it's a court order that is drawn up in such a way as to protect an individual from harassment or stalking or physical abuse or threats. While many contain similar language, each order will be drawn up specifically to address the concerns presented in the case.

For example, you may be barred from personal contact with that individual by the requirement to stay a certain number of feet away from that person. You may be barred from initiating contact through text messages, phone calls or e-mail. You may be specifically prohibited from sending Facebook messages or asking a friend to contact the person on your behalf. You also may be prevented from conducting any form of surveillance on that individual.

There are a number of different kinds of restraining orders, the most common being domestic violence restraining orders, which are used to protect a person from abuse or harassment from an individual with whom that personal had or has an intimate relationship with. These are sometimes especially tricky when children are involved.

Other types of order include civil harassment restraining orders (which is what was issued in the Goldblum case), workplace violence restraining orders or elder or dependent adult abuse restraining orders.

Additionally, such orders can be either temporary, as in response to an emergency situation, or permanent, aimed at ensuring longer-term protection.

California Penal Code 273.6 bars the intentional or knowing violation of the terms of a protection order.

The key here is "knowing or intentional." This is the language from which a number of potential defenses can be raised.

Possibilities include:

  • That you didn't intentionally violate the order;
  • That you didn't know about the restraining order;
  • That the judge didn't legally issue the restraining order;
  • That you were falsely accused of violating the restraining order.

In order to prove that you violated the order, prosecutors have to show that the judge issued a legal order, that you knew about it and that you intentionally violated it.

So the prosecutor has to show that even if you didn't actually read the order, you had the opportunity to do so. For example, if the order is delivered to your home address and handed to you personally by an officer, yet you choose to toss the order in the junk mail pile, it would be considered you had the opportunity. However, if the order was mailed to an address that wasn't current, you can't be expected to have read it.

An intentional violation is one in which you knew you were going to be breaking the terms of that order, but you did so anyway. So for example, you may be barred from contacting your ex or from getting within a certain distance from him. But if you go to a store and run into him, that would not be considered an intentional violation. If, however, you began sending him messages on Facebook, that could probably be considered a violation.

Just because you have been accused of a violation doesn't mean you have to automatically accept a guilty plea. Doing so could result in as much as three years in prison, if not more, depending on the perceived seriousness. Call us instead.

Contact Houman Fakhimi trial attorney at (714) 705-6701 as soon as possible if you are arrested in Rancho Cucamonga.