November 17, 2023 By Paul Wallin

Parris v. Christopher: Defending Against Domestic Violence Restraining Order Cases

A domestic violence restraining order (DVRO) is a type of restraining order issued to protect people, property, or pets. A DVRO is typically issued against a romantic partner, but it can also be issued against a family member. Having a DVRO issued against you can be a burden. A simple argument can escalade into a restraining order. However, in order to issue a restraining order against you, the court has to examine the circumstances surrounding the alleged victim’s reasoning for obtaining a restraining order. These factors are set in place by courts to prevent someone from obtaining a restraining order against a falsely accused perpetrator. Parris v. Christopher outlines the factors required in order for a court to issue a restraining order. 


Christopher U. and Parris J. were married. Parris started an internship and Christopher put her apartment under his name and paid her rent for the duration of her internship. However, after two months, Christopher and Parris were engaged in multiple “heated arguments” and Parris moved out. Parris alleged that Christopher used the apartment that was under his name to gain financial leverage over Parris. Parris further claimed that Christopher at first stopped her from moving out of the apartment. Parris then sought a domestic violence restraining order against Christopher. The trial court granted a five year DVRO in Parris’ favor. Christopher appealed the trial court’s decision. The court of appeals had to determine whether or not Parris’ allegations were sufficient enough to justify the granting of a DVRO. 

What Exactly is the Domestic Violence Prevention Act?

The Domestic Violence Prevention Act (DVPA) is an important piece of legislation in California that aims to protect alleged victims of domestic violence and hold perpetrators accountable. 

Under the DVPA, domestic violence is defined as abuse committed against a spouse or former spouse, cohabitant, or someone with whom the abuser has a child. This broad definition includes physical violence, threats of harm, and emotional and psychological abuse.

One key aspect of the DVPA is its focus on prevention and early intervention. The law allows for alleged victims to obtain emergency protective orders without having to wait for a hearing, providing immediate protection for those in danger. It also requires law enforcement officers to make a report and arrest the alleged perpetrator only if there is probable cause that domestic violence has occurred.

The DVPA also provides for long-term protective orders, known as restraining orders, which can last up to five years. These orders can include various provisions such as ordering the alleged abuser to stay away from the alleged victim and prohibiting any form of contact or communication. Violation of a restraining order is a criminal offense in California and can result in fines and jail time.


Christopher’s appeal against the five-year DVRO was based on his argument that the evidence did not establish abuse, which should be evaluated objectively according to a reasonable standard. The court looks at the totality of the circumstances surrounding the alleged abuse. This includes proof of past abusive acts, which, when taken in total, can harm the alleged victim’s mental or physical health. The court found that Christopher did have past abusive behaviors, including substantial evidence that Cristopher disturbed Parris’ peace and exerted coercive control over her. The evidence the court found included Christopher making Parris financially dependent on him. This included putting the apartment she was living in under his name. Additionally, Parris argued that the life insurance policy Christopher had taken out on her, gave him financial incentive to harm or kill her. Finally, the court found that Christopher repeatedly threatened Parris and her family. When taken in the totality of the circumstances, the court found enough evidence of abusive behavior by Christopher that would warrant a DVRO in Parris’ favor. 

This case illustrates what a court must find in order to grant an alleged victim a restraining order. If you are facing having a DVRO issued against you, it is important to hire a skilled and experienced defense attorney. A defense attorney will be able to raise questions regarding the evidence presented, as well as present evidence that would prevent the court from finding that a DVRO is warranted. 

Contact Us

If you are facing having a DVRO issued against you, you need an aggressive defense attorney to fight for your freedom. With 40+ years of experience, our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have helped thousands of clients win their cases or get their charges reduced to a lesser degree. We know the most effective defenses to argue on your behalf, and we will do everything in our power to help you achieve the best possible result in your case. 

You may not be aware of all your options. Calling our office costs you nothing, but picking up the phone could be the difference between years in prison and years of freedom. Let our skilled attorneys examine your case to find the best way to avoid prison.Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.

AUTHOR: Paul Wallin

Paul Wallin is one of the most highly respected attorneys in Southern California. His vast experience, zealous advocacy for his clients and extensive knowledge of many areas of the law make Mr. Wallin a premiere Southern California attorney. Mr. Wallin founded Wallin & Klarich in 1981. As the senior partner of Wallin & Klarich, Mr. Wallin has been successfully representing clients for more than 30 years. Clients come to him for help in matters involving assault and battery, drug crimes, juvenile crimes, theft, manslaughter, sex offenses, murder, violent crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. Mr. Wallin also helps clients with family law matters such as divorce and child custody.

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