Civil Protection Orders in DC, what are they?

A protection order is an order issued by the court that directs a person to refrain from committing a crime, threatening to commit a crime, abusing or harassing another person, or having any contact whatsoever with a certain person or persons. A Civil Protection Order is only appropriate in cases where the parties are involved in certain relationships. For example, a Civil Protection Order is appropriate if the petitioner and respondent are spouses, ex-spouses, romantically or sexually involved, roommates, or if they share a common intimate partner.

Regardless of the relationship between the parties, a restraining order can be issued if a judge finds that the party applying for the order will suffer immediate and irreparable injury, loss or damage. Most often, a restraining order will specify an action that is prohibited from being carried out in order to protect the other party or other party’s property. Anyone facing a potential protection order should consult with a Washington DC domestic violence lawyer about preventing or handling that measure.

Temporary Protection Orders, what are they?

In some cases, after a person has petitioned for a Civil Protection Order, a judge will issue a temporary protection order if there is evidence that either the petitioner or a household member of the petitioner is in immediate danger of the respondent. This is referred to as an ex parte proceeding because once the temporary protection order is issued, usually, the respondent will not have notice of the petition and, therefore, not have the opportunity to respond.

A temporary protection order only lasts for two weeks, as in 14 days. However, if both parties consent, a temporary protection order may be extended in additional 14 day increases until a hearing is held for the Civil Protection Order.

What is the effect of a Civil Protection Order?

As with a Civil Protection Order, it is very important for a person to abide by any orders given by a judge. If a person is involved in a criminal case as well, violation of a temporary protection order can result in additional criminal charges. A violation of the order may complicate negotiations with the prosecutor if the attorney is trying to work out a favorable resolution for them.

Civil Protection Orders, how do they work?

When a person files a request, referred to as a petition, for a Civil Protection Order, a judge will hold a hearing in order to determine whether there is good cause to find that the respondent either committed or threatened to commit a crime against the petitioner. The petition for civil protection will be denied if a judge does not find that there is good cause. However, if the judge finds good cause, then they can issue an order that directs a person to do or refrain from doing a number of different things.

For example, a judge can issue an order that requires the respondent to refrain from committing or threatening to commit a crime against the petitioner or refrain from contacting the petitioner. A judge can issue an order for the respondent to participate in counseling or psychiatric treatment, give up possession of property, whether it is owned individually or jointly with the petitioner and/or give up possession of any firearms.

The protection order can even include terms that award temporary custody of the party’s children to the petitioner. If a Civil Protection Order is issued, the judge will specify how long the order will be effective within a limit of up to one year.

Can I change a Civil Protection Order?

It is possible for a Civil Protection Order to be extended, rescinded, or modified after the judge grants the petition. Both the petitioner and the respondent are able to file a motion to extend, rescind, or modify the order and the judge can grant such a motion if good cause is shown.

For example, if the respondent continues to threaten the petitioner and has violated the existing order in place, then the petitioner may choose to file a motion to extend the order or modify it to make it harsher. In this case a judge may find good cause to extend or modify the Civil Protection Order.

What is the impact upon those charged?

A lawyer is in the best position to explain all the potential repercussions that may come after being charged with a domestic violence related offense and also after having a Civil Protection Order issued against you.

Criminal charges for domestic violence offense and a civil case for a Civil Protection Order are different and are handled differently, but can sometimes impact one another. For instance, a finding of guilt in a criminal case may cause the judge in a Civil Protection Order case to grant a petition for a Civil Protection Order without holding a hearing. If you require assistance, please call at 202-872-0400.