A 41-year-old Chula Vista man who was arrested on April 4 on suspicion of impersonating a police officer and making bogus traffic stops has now been charged with stalking his former girlfriend and a restraining order violation. Police allege that he called his ex-girlfriend in violation of the court order and may have tried to enter her home.

The man’s April 4 arrest involved two misdemeanor counts of impersonating an officer and one count of child endangerment. He allegedly pulled over three motorists, whom the press points out were all women, in a black-and-white Ford Crown Victoria equipped with emergency lights and a siren. Police suspect that he pulled one motorist over on February 23 and told her she had run a red light. When a Chula Vista police cruiser pulled up, he drove away.

Police also claim that he pulled over another two motorists for alleged traffic violations on March 9. That day, however, he had his now-ex-girlfriend’s 11-year-old daughter in the car. That fact apparently led to the child endangerment charge, although it is not clear how the child was endangered.

The man was arrested when he was in court for an unrelated charge, although the article in the Los Angeles Times did not say what charge that may have been. The article also did not specify why a temporary restraining order had been issued against the man. He was released on bail.

A temporary restraining order must be followed, but does not indicate guilt

In California, restraining orders do not necessarily have to be based on domestic violence — they can also be issued cases involving allegations of stalking or other non-violent harassment.

The fact that a temporary restraining order (TRO) is issued does not indicate that a court has found anyone guilty of domestic violence or harassment. A temporary restraining order lasting 21 days is issued immediately whenever someone applies for one and submits reasonable proof of past abuse or harassment.

The court then schedules an evidentiary hearing to determine whether the alleged harassment or abuse warrants a permanent restraining order, which lasts for 3-5 years. It is not until this hearing that the person accused of harassment or domestic violence has a chance to offer a defense.

Nevertheless, a temporary restraining order must be followed. If you have been served with a TRO, do not attempt to contact the petitioner in any way — even through third parties. Instead, consult a criminal defense lawyer and prepare for the hearing. If you do not attend the hearing, the judge may decide to issue a permanent restraining order without any further notice to you.