What is a Civil Protection Order (CPO)?
A Civil Protection Order (CPO) is a court order that protects the Petitioner (the person who filed for it) from a Respondent (the person against whom the petition was filed). The CPO will prohibit the Respondent from doing certain acts, contacting the Petitioner, and a wide range of additional activities. The Respondent will face criminal charges and jail time if he or she violates the CPO. You may have heard a CPO be called a Restraining Order, Domestic Violence Temporary Protection Order, Criminal Protection Order, or Stalking Order, but those are all different types of orders and we address Civil Stalking Protection Orders HERE (Link to page for CSPO Information).
Who can apply for a Civil Protection Order?
In order to apply for a CPO, the Petitioner must be a “family and /or household member” in relation to the Respondent. The following categories of people qualify as “family and / or household members”:
- Former spouses
- Persons living together as spouses or otherwise cohabitating
- Includes same sex couples
- Includes roommates
- Parents, children, or other persons related by blood or marriage who are living together or have previously lived with the offender
- Persons who have a child or children together (they do not have to live together)
If you do not qualify for the one of the eligible categories above, but you are being harmed, threatened, or stalked, you may be eligible for a Civil Stalking Protection Order (Link to page for CSPO information) or a Criminal Protection Order if there is an open criminal case. If you have questions about whether or not you qualify as an eligible party for a CPO, we would encourage you to contact our office for a consultation or you can reach out to the law firm of your choice or any other community resource that may be able to help you decide on the best course of action to protect yourself.
What do I have to prove to get a Civil Protection Order?
In order to prevail and to receive a full CPO from the Court, the Petitioner must be able to demonstrate that the Respondent engaged in conduct that is defined as Domestic Violence. Ohio law defines Domestic Violence as conduct that threatens or actually causes physical harm to a family or household member. It also includes using a threat of force to cause a family or household member to believe that the offender will cause imminent physical harm. In more common terms, domestic violence includes physical violence, threats, intimidation, emotional or sexual abuse, etc. If you have questions about whether the offender’s conduct rises to the level of Domestic Violence as recognized by the Courts and Ohio law, you should have a consultation with an attorney or seek out community resources that may help answer your questions.
Can the Civil Protection Order protect other family members (including pets)?
Yes, the Petitioner can file a Petition for a Civil Protection Order that includes other family or household members as protected parties. The CPO that is put into place can also include protections for animals that are considered “companion animals” and this category includes dogs, cats, and some other pets.
How do I file for a Civil Protection Order?
The process is generally the same in every county in Ohio. The Petitioner will complete a Petition for a Civil Protection Order and will file it with the Clerk of Court for the Domestic Court in his or her home county or other appropriate county. The Supreme Court of Ohio has created a form Petition that is accepted in every county in Ohio and that can be found HERE (https://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/JCS/domesticViolence/protection_forms/DVForms/default.asp). You will want to carefully and accurately complete the Petition and make sure that you describe the Respondent’s conduct with specificity. It is important that you detail where and when the alleged conduct happened.
How much does it cost to file for a Civil Protection Order?
There is no charge to file for a CPO in Ohio.
What happens after I file for a Civil Protection Order?
There are two hearings that will happen after you file for a CPO – The Ex Parte Hearing and the Full Hearing.. The Ex Parte Hearing will happen immediately after you file for a CPO. It is called “Ex Parte” because the other side is not represented or present at this first hearing, it just the Petitioner going before the Judge or Magistrate to present his or her case. Because this Ex Parte Hearing usually happens on the same day you file, you will want to make sure to file early enough in the day so that the Court can actually hold the hearing. After reviewing your petition, listening to your presentation, and reviewing any evidence that you present, the Court will immediately make a decision on whether or not to issue an Ex Parte Civil Protection Order. If granted, this Ex Parte order will remain in effect until the Court can hold the Full Hearing. If the Court does not grant the Ex Parte Order, the Court must still schedule a time for a Full Hearing. At the Full Hearing, both the Petitioner and Respondent are present and will offer their own testimony and evidence as to the facts and circumstances underlying the Petition. The Petitioner has the burden of proof in demonstrating that the Respondent engaged in Domestic Violence against him or her. After the Full Hearing, the Court will decide whether or not to grant a Full CPO. Both of these hearings happen pretty fast, the Full Hearing is typically schedule 7 – 10 business days after the Ex Parte hearing.
What can a Respondent be prohibited from doing if a Civil Protection Order is granted?
A CPO can order the Respondent to do or not do the following:
- Vacate a shared residence
- Surrender all keys and garage door openers to a shared residence
- Stay away from the residence, school, business, place of employment, day care center, child care center, etc. of all named protected persons.
- Stay at least 500 feet (or other reasonable amount of distance) away from protected persons
- No contact with any protected person at any of the above named locations and this contact includes phone calls, text messages, e-mails, social mediate messages, etc.
- Surrender keys and remotes to a shared vehicle
- Be prohibited from removing, damaging, hiding, or disposing of any property or pets owned by protected persons
- Be prohibited from encouraging any other person to violate a provision of the CPO (i.e. asking a friend or family member to contact a protected person on his or her behalf)
- Be prohibited from possessing, using, carrying, or obtaining any deadly weapon.
- Parental rights and responsibilities can be temporary allocated (and later modified by a court of proper jurisdiction)
- Visitation orders can be suspended or modified
- Temporary monetary support can be ordered from the Respondent to the Petitioner.
- Be prohibited from using alcohol or illegal drugs
- Be ordered to complete counseling
- Additional orders as the Court deems necessary
How long can a full Civil Protection Order last?
A full CPO can be put into place for up to five (5) years from the date it is issued.
Can a Civil Protection Order be renewed for an additional term?
Yes, it is possible but complicated. The possibility will really depend on what has transpired during the original term. Because it is so dependent on your specific circumstances, it would be best to seek a legal consultation to address your case.
Can I dismiss or modify a Civil Protection order that I filed against a Respondent?
Yes, you may file to modify or dismiss an existing CPO that you filed. The Court will set a hearing to review the facts and the reason why you want to dismiss or modify the existing CPO. It is still up to the Court’s discretion on whether or not to change the existing CPO.
Can I file to dismiss or modify a Civil Protection Order that was filed against me?
Yes, you may file to modify or dismiss an existing CPO that was filed against you. The Court will set a hearing to review the facts and the reason why you want to dismiss or modify the existing CPO. The Court will also strongly take into consideration the wishes of the Petitioner if he or she does not agree to dismiss or modify the CPO. It will up to the Court’s discretion on whether or not to change the existing CPO.
Can I appeal a full Civil Protection Order hearing?
Yes, you can appeal the outcome of a full Civil Protection Order. However, you should be aware that there are strict and tight deadlines for the appeal window, so you shouldn’t delay in filing your own appeal or contacting an attorney to file an appeal on your behalf.
Do I need an attorney to file for or defend against a Civil Protection Order?
You are not required to have an attorney to either file for a CPO or defendant against a CPO that is filed against you. However, you will be held to the same standard as a licensed attorney while you present your case, meaning that you will need to be aware of the rules of civil procedure, the rules of evidence, and any local rules that are applicable to the hearing or proceedings. You may have evidence you wish to present but it is objected to or barred as hearsay, irrelevant, or any other objectionable grounds. You will also need to make sure that you achieve good service on the Respondent or the case will not proceed. An experienced attorney in protection order hearings will typically be able to best present your case to the Court for its consideration and help you avoid some legal pitfalls.
What happens if the Petitioner does not show up for the full Civil Protection Order hearing?
More than likely, the Court will dismiss the original Petition and Ex Parte Civil Protection Order. However, if the Petitioner has a valid excuse (family emergency, hospitalization, etc.) and has contacted the Court ahead of time, a continuance of the Full Hearing may be granted at the Court’s discretion.
What happens if the Respondent does not show up for the full Civil Protection Order hearing?
The case will proceed as scheduled and the Petitioner may present his or her witnesses and evidence. Without any evidence or witnesses presented on behalf of the Respondent, the full Civil Protection Order is more likely to be granted than if the Respondent had appeared and defended the case. However, if the case lacks merit and the Petitioner did not meet his or her burden of proof, the Court can still deny the Petition for a full CPO, even if the Respondent did not defend against it.
I have just been served with a Civil Protection Order, what should I do?
First, you need to carefully read the entire order and be aware of what you can and cannot do in relation to the Petitioner. If you violate the order, even accidentally, you can be subject to serious criminal penalties, including jail time. The first violation is a misdemeanor, but subsequent violations can be felonies. Next, you will want to look for the hearing date for the Full Hearing and make sure that you are available for it. If you need more time to procure evidence or to hire an attorney, the Court will typically grant the Respondent’s request for a continuance at the first hearing. Keep in mind that if an Ex Parte CPO was issued against you, that it will be extended and remain in effect until the Full Hearing happens. You will want to carefully review the allegations made against you in the Petition and gather up any evidence or witnesses that contradict the allegations. This could be text messages, phone call logs, eyewitnesses to specific events, etc. If you decide you would like for an attorney to represent you at the full hearing, it is best not to delay in contacting the firm of your choice to set up a consultation.
Does a Civil Protection Order filed against me affect my firearms rights?
Yes, under both State and Federal law. The local sheriff’s office will likely be instructed to remove and maintain possession of any firearms in your home until the CPO case has been resolved. For a better understanding of how a CPO affects your gun rights, it is recommend that you consult with a law firm that handles protection orders and / or firearms law.
Does a Civil Protection Order appear on my record? Does it affect job applications, etc.?
A Civil Protection Order is entered into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). This database is searchable by law enforcement, government agencies, and potentially some other background checking agencies. A CPO case may or may not appear online on a Clerk of Court’s website, that is determined by each individual county. The short, easy answer is YES, a CPO issued against you is on your record and could affect your employability. To best determine how to clean up your record after a CPO has expired, you should consult with a law firm of your choice to discuss options.
Can I file for a Civil Protection Order against an individual who is not yet 18 years old?
If you intend to file for a CPO that is under the age of 18 (considered a juvenile Respondent), there is a Juvenile Protection Order that can be filed in the Juvenile Court system. For more information on this process, you should consult with a law firm of your choice or with any available community resources.
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