Domestic violence is far too common here in Ohio, and across the United States. According to the Ohio Office of the Attorney General, in 2018 alone, 75,466 people called law enforcement regarding domestic violence. Between 2017 and 2018, 91 people were killed in domestic violence incidents in Ohio.
In Ohio, there are four types of protection orders that an individual may obtain based on their specific situation. These include (1) domestic violence protection orders; (2) stalking protection orders; (3) sexually oriented offense protection orders; and (4) juvenile protection orders. In this post, we will be addressing domestic violence civil protection orders.
There are multiple steps that an individual must take in order to obtain this type of order, including filing a petition and then going to an initial hearing and a second hearing. A person who is the subject of a petition domestic violence civil protection order can contest the order at the second hearing. If the order is issued, then any violation of it may be charged as a crime.
If you are in a romantic or living situation that involves domestic violence — or allegations of domestic violence — a Mason domestic violence attorney can help. Whether you need assistance in filing a petition for a civil protection order or want to fight back against the allegations in a petition for this type of order, a lawyer can work with you to help you get justice.
What Is a Civil Protection Order?
In Ohio, victims of abuse can obtain a domestic violence civil protection order (CPO), which may also be referred to as a “stay away” order. A CPO can prohibit a person from doing certain things. In these cases, the person asking for a CPO is known as the petitioner, while the other person is known as the respondent.
Under Ohio law, anyone may apply for a CPO if they (1) meet the definition of family or household member and (2) there has been an act of domestic violence or threat of domestic violence. A family or household member includes:
- A person who has resided with the respondent as:
- A spouse, a person living as a spouse (common-law spouse), or a former spouse of the respondent;
- A parent, a foster parent, or a child of the respondent, or another person related by blood or marriage to the respondent; or
- A parent or a child of a spouse, a person living as a spouse, or a former spouse of the respondent, or another person related by blood or marriage to a spouse, person living as a spouse, or former spouse of the respondent.
- The natural parent of any child of whom the respondent is the other natural parent or who is believed to be the other natural parent (parents who have a child or children in common).
In addition, people who have lived together in the past 5 years and people who are or were in a dating relationship with the respondent may file for a CPO.
For purposes of domestic violence CPOs, domestic violence means one or more of the following acts against a family or household member OR against a person with whom the respondent is or was in a dating relationship:
- Attempting to cause or recklessly causing bodily injury; or
- Placing another person in fear of imminent serious physical harm by the threat of force.
If an individual commits these acts of domestic violence, then the victim may seek a domestic violence CPO against them.
When filing for a CPO, a petitioner can request a number of protections from the court. There are different types of protection that may be available depending on the situation. The protections that are ordered share a common goal of preventing the petitioner from being in fear of violence or threats of violence.
A CPO may:
- Order the respondent to refrain from abusing or committing sexual violence against the respondent and their family or household members;
- Give possession of the residence or household to the petitioner or other family or household member by ordering the respondent to leave, if the premises is jointly owned or leased by the respondent;
- Order the respondent to not harm or try to harm, follow, threaten, stalk, harass, or force sexual relations;
- Mandate that the respondent complete counseling or substance abuse treatment;
- Require the respondent to turn over weapons to the police and prohibit future gun possession.
- Temporarily give parental rights and responsibilities or establish temporary visitation (parental time) rights for minor children if there is no court order in place regarding custody and visitation;
- Order the respondent to stay away from the petitioner and/or to have no contact with the petitioner in any way, and may specify how far away (example: 500 feet) the respondent must stay away; and/or
- Require the respondent to not enter the residence, school, business or place of employment of the petitioner or family or household member.
A court may order any other type of protection that it considers “equitable and fair.” If a CPO is granted, then these protections may be in place for up to 5 years and can be renewed.
The Domestic Violence Civil Protection Order Process
To obtain a domestic violence CPO, a petitioner must file a petition for a Protection Order in the county where either they or the respondent live or has a business, or where the incident(s) occurred. The petition is filed in the Domestic Relations Court. For example, in Warren County, a petition for a domestic violence CPO can be filed at the courthouse located at 500 Justice Drive in Lebanon.
The process of obtaining a CPO starts with filling out an intake form. The petitioner can do this on their own, or an attorney can complete the form on their behalf. Once the form is completed and notarized, it must be filed with the Clerk of Courts.
The petitioner will then give testimony before a judge or magistrate about why they need a CPO at an ex parte hearing. This is a hearing where only one party is present — in this case, the petitioner. The judge or magistrate will then either issue or deny a temporary emergency civil protection order, based on the petitioner’s immediate safety concerns. If this temporary CPO is issued, then it will go into effect immediately.
No matter what happens at the ex parte hearing, a second hearing will be scheduled, which will take place within 7 to 10 business days of the initial hearing. This is known as a full hearing. The court will provide the petitioner with information about the full hearing, including the date and time before they leave the courthouse.
In order for the full hearing to be held as scheduled, the respondent must be served with the petition, either by the Sheriff’s Deputies or via certified mail. If the respondent is not served, then the hearing cannot move forward. The petitioner will need to take steps to ensure that the respondent is served, which may include providing an updated address.
If the hearing moves forward, then one of three things may occur:
- The respondent may ask for a continuance, which means that the full hearing will be rescheduled for a later day and time. The respondent can only be granted one continuance.
- Both parties may agree to a Consent Agreement Civil Protective Order; or
- The full hearing goes to a trial. This trial will take place on the same day as the hearing.
If the case goes to trial, then the petitioner will have the burden of proof that an act or acts of domestic violence have occurred. They must demonstrate this by the preponderance of the evidence, which means more likely than not. At the conclusion of the trial, the magistrate will either grant or deny the CPO, and each party will receive a copy of the decision.
Importantly, both parties have the right to have a lawyer represent them at all stages of the domestic violence civil protection order process. Having an attorney can help you present a strong case that will lead to a favorable outcome — whether you are the petitioner or the respondent.
What Happens After a Civil Protection Order Is Issued?
If a domestic violence civil protection order is issued, then the respondent must comply with the order. This may mean that the respondent has to move out of the house, turn over weapons to the police, and to follow temporary child custody and visitation orders.
A domestic violence CPO is a civil order. It is not a criminal matter. However, violation of a CPO may result in a criminal charge.
Violating a protection order is a first-degree misdemeanor in most cases. However, it may be charged as a felony in certain circumstances, such as if the respondent has previously been convicted of violating a protective order or if the respondent commits a felony while violating the protective order. In addition, the respondent may be charged with contempt of court for violating a protection order.
If you wish to modify a domestic violence CPO, either as the respondent or the petitioner, you can do so by filing a motion to modify or terminate the order with the court. If you file this motion, then a hearing will be scheduled and the other party must be served.
Alternatively, you may be able to agree to a modification or termination of the CPO with the other party. This may be done through the court’s case management modification program, or through your attorney.
How We Can Help
Family and romantic relationships can be challenging. Domestic violence can add another complicated layer. A Mason domestic violence attorney can work with you to help you achieve the best possible result — whether you are filing for or fighting against a domestic violence civil protection order.
At Engel and Martin, each attorney at our firm is a former prosecutor. We have in-depth knowledge and experience handling domestic violence cases, from prosecuting crimes of domestic violence and violations of civil protection orders to handling CPOs in the context of family law matters. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with a member of our team,