Granting a DC Protective Order

When a petitioner files a request for a protective order against a respondent, the judge first determines if the petitioner has jurisdiction to file a protection order. Jurisdiction involves the determination that a valid intra-family relationship exists between a petitioner and the respondent. The judge must also find that the allegations being submitted by the petitioner have a connection to the District of Columbia, which grants the judge jurisdiction over the case.

To better understand the process of granting a protective order in DC, it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. The process of granting and modifying a DC protective order can sometimes be complex, solidifying the need for legal counsel.

Determining the Validity of the Case

The first thing a judge must do when determining whether a person can be granted a DC civil protective order is decide whether the respondent committed an offense against the petitioner. That offense could include harassment, stalking, assault, destruction of property, threats, or other interpersonal offenses.

Initially, the judge only hears from a petitioner. If the judge finds enough evidence to move forward with granting a DC civil protection order (CPO), the judge has the petitioner serve the request for the CPO on the respondent.

Granting a Temporary Protection Order

The judge grants a temporary protection order (TPO) in DC until the respondent can be asked to appear in front of the judge for a hearing on the CPO. When the judge grants the petitioner a TPO, that protection order does not go into effect until the petitioner serves the respondent with the TPO. The TPO allows time for the respondent to be served with a CPO along with the notice of the hearing date at which the respondent must appear.

The TPO allows time for the respondent to be served with a CPO along with the notice of the hearing date at which the respondent must appear.

Serving the Respondent

A petitioner cannot personally serve the respondent; they must get someone else who is 18 years of age or older to serve the respondent. That could be a police officer or a friend, but the respondent must be served in person. The petitioner cannot mail, email, fax, or drop the TPO in the person’s mail box. They must serve the paperwork in person.

Once the respondent is served, they have a TPO with the full effect of a court order. That means that even though the TPO lasts only until the hearing date, the respondent has the obligation to comply with the conditions in the TPO immediately.

CPO Hearing

There is no break period between the protection orders. As soon as the respondent is served with the TPO, it goes into effect. The respondent should read through the TPO and comply with the conditions. The respondent must come to court for a hearing to resolve the petitioner’s full request for a CPO. The full request is subject to a hearing.

At the hearing, the respondent has the opportunity to call witnesses and testify before the judge as to why the full civil protection order should not be granted.

If the judge finds it is more likely than not that the respondent committed an offense against the petitioner, the judge grants the full DC civil protective order lasting one year. The judge also imposes other conditions as part of the CPO that a respondent must comply with, such as a stay away order, a no contact order, and other requirements.

Issuance of the Order

When a respondent is served by a petitioner with a request for CPO and a hearing date, the respondent is also served with a TPO that is in effect until the hearing date. The TPO has the full effect of a court order. The respondent faces criminal consequences for not complying with the requirements of a TPO. When a person receives a TPO, they should read the protection order and make sure they understand and comply with it.

A protection order cannot be ordered by a judge until a hearing takes place. When a respondent is served with a petition for CPO, that respondent has the obligation to gather any evidence. The respondent can consult with an attorney and have an attorney with them at the hearing date.

They should be ready for the possibility of proceeding to a hearing to challenge the allegations made in a petitioner’s request for the CPO. If the judge finds that there is enough evidence to prove by a preponderance that the respondent committed an offense against the petitioner, the judge issues a full one-year civil protection order.