On March 20, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered its nearly 40 million residents to stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The order comes with a misdemeanor penalty or a fine of up to $1,000. The order has created a domino effect throughout the state, which has included the temporary closure of the San Diego Superior Court of California.
For many people involved in an abusive relationship, Governor Newsom’s order creates a sense of despair and anxiety, as they find themselves forced to remain in the same household as their abuser. The Los Angeles Times has indicated that the National Domestic Violence Hotline has already received distressing calls since quarantine measures have been implemented.
As a family law attorney practicing in San Diego, CA., my heart dropped when I received the news that our courts would be temporarily closed. Many of my clients have temporary restraining orders that will expire this month. What would happen with incoming clients who needed protection through an immediate Domestic Violence Restraining order? Fortunately, the San Diego Superior Court of California has announced that although Courts are closed temporarily, they are accepting limited filings for emergency situations, including Domestic Violence Restraining Orders.
*Picture taken by Attorney Anna Encinias who attended Court on March 24, 2020 to file an emergency Domestic Violence Restraining Order.
With this news from the San Diego Superior Court, my colleague, Attorney Anna Encinias took action to assist one of our new clients in dire need for protection by filing a request for an emergency temporary restraining order on March 24, 2020. “On my drive to Court, the streets were empty. There was hardly anyone outside” said Anna Encinias. “ Upon arrival to the courthouse, I was greeted by a Sheriff who stayed on the other side of the glass door. He asked me what I was there for and I told him I needed to file a restraining order. He sent me to the fourth floor, which was even emptier than the streets.” After about approximately a two (2) hour wait, Ms. Encinias’ client’s temporary restraining order was granted.
As for those who have temporary restraining orders which will be expiring, the San Diego Superior Court has announced that the Court will be re-issuing the temporary restraining orders 21 to 25 days from the date of the original expiration date. Finally, a sense of relief in the midst of so much chaos in the world!
As we try to get through this uncertain time together, it is important to know that at least one thing is certain: you can obtain legal recourse if you find yourself quarantined with an abuser, and we are here to help.
By: Gisela Acevedo, Attorney at Contreras Law Firm
 This may change as closure dates continue to change, however, this is still accurate as of April 2, 2020.