Obtaining a Civil Protective Order (CPO) Against a Person in the District of Columbia

There are a number of reasons to ask the District of the Columbia for a Civil Protection Order (CPO); commonly known as a restraining or stay away order. A CPO is a court order that can last up to one year in which your abuser must stay away from you, not contact you, and stop abusing or threatening you.A CPO can be filed up to two years after the abuse has occurred, but in it is often in your best interest to file as soon as possible. The order is enforced in every state, district, and territory of the United States regardless of where it was ordered. Being in a current or former abusive relationship or fearing for your safety from a second party are just a few reasons for the need for a CPO. The entire CPO process can be done on one’s own, however this is not advised. This process can be difficult and hard to navigate. Depending on your circumstances, it might be essential for your safety to ensure this order is granted. Because of this, using the knowledge and experience of a DC CPO attorney might be in your best self interest.

Civil Protection Orders are filed at the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. When going to file your initial complaint, you are given an extensive form to write your plea and describe in detail the events which have lead you to file the order. Having an experienced attorney could be necessary in this step of the process because the actions you are describing must constitute a crime. Someone saying something mean does not constitute a crime, however someone threatening your life does. An attorney can aid you in ensuring the incidents were in fact crimes. Furthermore, you must have a reasonable fear of danger from the second party, who is also called the respondent in these proceedings.

Once the form has been submitted, the form will be evaluated to ensure the complaints meet the preliminary standard for the matter to advance totrial. Once this has been accomplished, a court date will be set within two weeks.

In the mean time, you may ask for a Temporary Protection Order (TPO) which will last until the CPO trial date. You will appear before a magistrate judge and will have to read the allegations you made against the respondent before the Court. The judge will then decide if the allegations constitute a need for such an order. In almost every circumstance, these orders are grantedbecause the respondent will not be able to challenge the allegations in this particular hearing. If the TPO is granted, it will last until your evidentiary trial in two weeks.

When your trial date comes, you will appear before a judge to present the necessary evidence for the order to be granted. The respondent will also be present at this trial date and will be able to challenge your complaints. You have the right to call witnesses on your behalf and cross examine any witness the respondent calls. You are also required by law to testify at this point in the proceeding. The respondent will have the right to cross examine you and the allegations they are facing. If you do not have a lawyer, all of this will be your responsibility to have the necessary legal skills throughout the trial. This is another reason why having an attorney to aid in preparation and at trial is vital. It is important the best evidence, witnesses, and cross examination is executed before the Court for the best possible chance at getting the CPO granted.

Another reason a CPO attorney might be necessary is often the respondent, whether they have grounds to do so or not, will attempt to file a retaliatory CPO against you. In the worst possible scenario, the CPO against you could be granted and yours could be denied. An experienced attorney will help assist in making sure this does not occur.

Once all the evidence and testimony has been completed at trial, the judge will issue a ruling on the status of the CPO. The judge will either grant or deny your motion. Having an experienced DC CPO attorney working on your behalf will help ensure the order is granted. Often times, people ask for these orders because their safety or their lives depend on it. Having the legal counsel of an attorney can help you get the best possible outcome for you and ensure your safety and well being.

If the order is granted and the respondent violates it, you do have recourse. It is essential to document the incident, save any evidence, get statements from any witnesses,contact authorities, and if you were physically assaulted to immediately go to the hospital. You should also contact your CPO lawyer. Your attorney will be able to get you legal recourse, which can include jail time for your abuser. It is important any violations are well documented and reported to authorities for your safety and an experienced DC CPO attorney can be an essential part of maintaining that. Contact the experienced attorneys at Bruckheim & Patel for a free confidential evaluation of your case.