Criminal Lawyer on Civil Protection Orders

A DC domestic violence lawyer answers questions about civil protection orders in DC.

What is a protection order and how does it work?

 A civil protection order is a request for what’s commonly referred to as a restraining order. It is filed by one individual against another individual. A person has to show that there is some intra-family offense that was committed by the opposing party in order to be able to get a civil protection order. The difference between that and a domestic violence case is that a domestic violence case is a criminal charge filed by the US Attorney’s office of the District of Columbia, as opposed to a civil protection order, which is a civil request, by an individual person and not by a government entity, to have the court order another person to stay away from him or her. That has the force of the court behind it, so if the person then violates the order, they can be charged with the crime of contempt of court.

Why is having an attorney important in cases where a civil protection order may be issued?

One thing that often comes up in civil protection order cases is that a civil protection order is usually connected to a criminal case. One mistake that people make is doing things to fight a civil protection order that can put them in a worse position in the criminal side of the case. If a person has a civil protection order and a criminal case, then having a lawyer assist them with both can make sure that the civil protection order is resolved through negotiations so that the defendant can focus their attention on defending themselves and their criminal case. A civil protection order does not go in a criminal record. There is no public record of a civil protection order that could damage someone’s job, etc. It’s simply a civil order by the court that they have to stay away from another person, so it’s typically most important that they prioritize. If someone has a criminal case along with the civil protection order case, having a lawyer to assist them through that process can help them use the civil protection order process to their advantage when defending themselves in the criminal case.

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